Chapter 1: Rough Landing
Sheriff Rick Grimes hoped that he was dreaming.
They’d gone to town for a supply run when something shook the area around them. Glenn and Maggie followed him as he scaled a fire escape. Every walker in the area seemed to have been drawn out because of the noise. Smoke obscured the center of town which made Rick wish that Daryl was still around. After finding Sophia then dealing with the after math of her execution, the remaining Dixon brother fled. It left Rick without someone he could trust.
Laughter permeated the air as the smoke cleared as if it was being swept aside by an invisible hand. In the center of the fray were three men or what looked like three men. One was decked out in red, white, and blue armor like the Fourth of July and used a shield to take out the walkers that rushed him. The shorter blonde man of the trio stood on top of a burned out car in what looked like body armor. He used a bow and arrow to bring down walkers from a distance. The third man Rick doubted was a man at all. He was too tall and dressed like an extra out of Lord of the Rings in black leather and green wool. His black hair blew wildly in the wind. Then the sheriff saw how he destroyed walkers. Green energy burst from the man’s hands as he laughed.
“Loki! Where’s Darcy?!” The man with the shield yelled.
He shoved a couple of walkers down and the pavement cracked.
“Safe!” Loki answered. “How are your injuries, Clint Barton?”
“Ribs hurt like a mother fucker but I’ll live! Leg needs to be stitched up!” Clint shouted as he took down the last walker.
“Who are they?” Maggie breathed. Her eyes were as wide as Rick’s.
“Don’t know but I think we can call them friends,” Rick answered.
“You sure, man? They have powers like legit powers,” Glenn protested.
“Humans on the roof, I can hear you perfectly,” the one dubbed Loki called. Rick noted that his accent was something close to British. “You may as well come down, the draugr are gone for now.”
Once they got closer, he saw that the man with the shield was movie star handsome since the cowl over his face was pushed off. Clint reminded Rick of the Irish boxers he’d seen on his one trip North. Loki’s aristocratic face stared down at Rick.
“I am Loki Odinson of Asgard and these are my companions, Clint Barton of Shield and Steve Rogers better known as Captain America. What dimension are we in?” Loki asked.
“I’m Rick Grimes. This is Maggie Greene and Glenn Smith,” Rick introduced. “Dimension?”
“Yes, human, dimension,” Loki repeated as if he was talking to a particularly slow child. “I need to know so that I can calculate how long it will take for me to recover in order to leave.”
“Ki, I don’t think they have magic here,” Steve interrupted. “Where’s Darcy?”
“Oh, yes, Darcy Lewis. I left her with a man named Daryl Dixon,” Loki stated. Nimble fingers danced over each other as the green energy dissipated.
“Wait! You left your female friend with Daryl Dixon?” Glenn repeated. “Redneck racist Daryl Dixon?”
“Daryl’s alive?” Rick’s response was enthusiastic.
“You left Darcy with a racist?” Clint the bowman snarled. “Good one, Odinson.”
“Be at peace, Clinton. I can assure you that Darcy is quite safe. I would not have stayed here to fight the draugr if she was in danger. I love our shield sister,” Loki sighed.
“Any harm comes to my granddaughter, we’re having words, Ki,” Steve spoke up. “Pardon me, but do you have an encampment close? Clint needs medical care.”
“My farm is a few miles away. You’re welcome as long as you can pull your weight,” Maggie offered even as Glenn shook his head empathetically.
“Your hospitality would be most welcome,” Loki answered. He brushed off invisible dust before allowing himself to be led to the truck. “Clint, please ride in the cab. Less jostling.”
“I’ll be fine in the back, Ki,” the archer insisted.
“It will further damage your leg,” Loki retorted. “I am the reason you are not bleeding out.”
Rick watched as Steve knelt down to push up the archer’s pant leg. To say it was bad would’ve been a gross understatement. Bone protruded through ragged flesh yet it all seemed to be in a state of statis and the sheriff guessed the injury had been caused by impact. A faint green glow surrounded the wound and he wondered what sort of people he was bringing back to the farm.
Chapter 2: Drowned in Blue
A crash scared off the deer Daryl spent the better part of a week tracking.
He saw red as it bolted into thick underbrush as he heard a splash followed by a lot of yelling. The female voice died out once the sound of something hitting water came to his ears. The male voice continued on increasing in pitch and in panic. The Hunter crept through the brush until he saw a tall man that looked like he belonged on some sort of special on Viking warfare and a girl. The girl was face down on the bank and slowly slipping into the river.
“You!” The man spun around, flickered as if he was not really there. “Get my companion out of the river and I will grant you whatever boon you want.”
Daryl thought he talked funny. Like those PBS specials he’d watch when Merle was in prison or passed out somewhere.
“Cain’t you do it yerself?” Daryl asked, feeling out if it was an elaborate trap.
“If I could do that, human, I would not ask for your assistance,” the man snapped back. “If she drowns, I will hunt you down.”
“Don’ get yer panties in a twist,” Daryl grouched before he hauled the girl out of the river. He checked her breathing and her pulse and wanted to laugh because the First Aid courses he took in high school finally paid off. He’d signed up for them as an alternative to PE and in case Merle ever overdosed while they were hunting. “She gonna be fine.”
The girl in question shivered and he took a moment to look at her. The first thing he noticed, aside from her excellent breasts, was the fact that she looked well fed. Her cheek bones didn’t show and she still had curves. Her brown hair stuck to her face and the second thing he noticed was her clothing. Converse shoes, faded jeans, and a shirt that said ‘Owls are our allies’. It took a moment but he realized she dressed herself like the girls that used to come to the roadhouse that he and Merle would frequent after work. He’d only tried to talk to one of them once. The result the realization that those girls were only there to drink PBR and judge the local yokels. Only this girl didn’t look like she’d do that. He wanted to believe she’d buy him a drink then kick his ass at pool.
“Loki?” Her voice was quiet. The flickering man knelt down next to her. “Where are we?”
“New dimension, dear one. Now you have you have to choose,” the newly dubbed Loki said as he reached out to touch her cheek. His hand fell right through her and Daryl hoped he was tripping on something or that he’d finally snapped from all the stress. “I can bring you to me but Clint will bleed out since I will have to reroute the remnants of my power.”
“I’ll find you,” the girl’s eyes opened. Daryl fell into blue and drowned when she looked at him. “Who is the hottie?”
“Daryl Dixon, Ma’am,” Daryl answered quietly.
“Darcy Lewis. Go save the day, Ki. And tell Steve that if he ever tosses his shield at unknown Skrull tech, I am going to kick his ass,” Darcy struggled to sit up. She gripped onto Daryl as he pulled them up. “Tell Clint if he dies, I’m going to be pissed.”
“Bring her back to me, Daryl Dixon, and I will reward you,” Loki promised then disappeared.
“That all just happened?” Daryl asked her. “I ain’t dreamin’?”
“Nope,” she answered, popping the ‘p’. “You just met Loki Odinson, the Norse Trickster.”
“Thought he’d be a red head. That’s what th’ stories always said,” Daryl said and Darcy hobbled over to a tree with broken limbs. She reached up to grab a worn military messenger bag. “So, I ain’t goin’ crazy?”
“Negative, Mr. Dixon,” she threw the strap over her head.
“Doctor,” he corrected out of unconscious habit. He winced because she wasn’t going to believe him and was obviously going to question the validity of his statement.
“What’s your doctorate in?” She asked instead. “I’m going for Political Science.”
“Psychology wit’ a specialization in addiction counselin’. Got my degrees from state colleges,” Daryl confessed as he watched her face. Her expression was that of awe. “Ain’t you gonna call me a liar?”
“Why would I? I’ve seen some of the toughest thugs with their doctorates and state colleges for the win!” Darcy said and pointed her fist at the hunter. “Don’t leave me hanging.”
He bumped fists with her.
Chapter 3: Fletching
Clint held onto Steve as Loki’s magic raced through his leg. It felt like a hot iron sealed his artery back together as someone repeatedly slammed into his chest with a sledgehammer. He wouldn’t scream even as the Trickster shoved two fingers into the wound to check the vein. The owner of the farm, Hershel watched from the door way with what seemed to be a gathering crowd.
“Agent Barton!” Steve’s voice cut through Clint’s thoughts. “Status!”
“My chest fucking hurts, Cap,” Clint confessed. There was a wet sensation on his leg and he tried to bolt up. “What the hell are you doing?!?”
Loki’s tongue laved over the wound. The tall man looked up from his task, blood dripped down his chin which added a morbid beauty to him. Green eyes narrowed before Loki resumed licking the wound and the all too familiar burn of skin knitting over took Clint.
“My magic ran out, Clint Barton,” Loki stated as he wiped his chin off. “I merely finished my task as best I knew. Jotun spit has healing properties. What have you been eating? You taste divine.”
“I should see to the boy’s chest,” Hershel interrupted. Before Clint could protest that he hadn’t been a boy for a long time, Loki placed a finger between his eyes and blackness over took him.
It felt like hours later when Clint surfaced again. His chest felt constricted and he found it to be wrapped tight. His leg ached but the ache was leaving slowly. He managed to get out of bed and pulled his boots on. The house was relatively silent except for the sounds of someone cooking food on the first floor. He found his way outside only to see a blue Loki meditating on the porch and Cap helping the women hang laundry.
“Hey, you’re awake,” Clint vaguely remembered the Korean kid’s name was Glenn.
“Yep. What’s the deal with this dimension?” Clint asked. He knew about the zombies and didn’t want any more nasty surprises.
“World ended. Not much to tell,” Glenn replied. “Are you some sort of Spec Ops or something?”
“Or something,” Clint echoed as he leaned against the porch railing.
“So is Darcy your girlfriend?” The Korean inquired. Clint knew that the kid was a spy for the rest of the group.
Before Darcy turned her blue eyes on him and declared that they would always be best friends, he would’ve answered that they were complicated. After though, she still remained his best friend. Granted they shared a two room suite with each other and spent most nights in the same bed, usually hers but no harm came of it. When they weren’t working they were together and he was pretty sure most of the team knew about their tattoos.
“She’s my best friend. Her cousin is dating Loki,” the archer answered. Two could play at the fishing for information game. “What’s Dixon’s deal?”
He listened as Glenn told him about Daryl’s brother Merle and Atlanta and what was called the ‘Sophia Incident’. It sounded to him like the group mistreated the redneck overall. Granted the brother came across as a risk but Clint would’ve beaten the asshole into submission in order to prove himself to be the alpha male. Daryl’s behavior sounded like he fed off of his older brother’s personality so not to appear weak.
“And after the incident with Carl and the walker, he took off. We didn’t notice he was gone until a week later. Kept his tent away from the rest of camp then winter came and he didn’t come back,” Glenn went on, fiddling with his hat. “Lori basically called him a pedophile since he started to spend a lot of time with Carl after the whole thing with Sophia.”
“Daryl Dixon is not a pedophile as you say,” Loki cracked open one red eye. “He was merely teaching the boy survival skills which his father neglected to do.”
“Loki here hunts them for fun back home. Fury overlooks it as long as there isn’t any property damage,” Clint supplied. “You’re lucky he stayed for as long as he did after the whole mess with his brother.”
“What do you mean?” Glenn asked. Shock overtook the shorter man’s face.
“Think about it, you left his brother to die and he still stayed. He hunted for that girl then injured himself for his trouble. Your group treated him like the scum of the earth but he still hunted for you. Fed you,” Clint knew he sounded irritated. “Personally, I would’ve fucked off as soon as I’d gotten back from the failed rescue mission.”
Glenn gaped at him like a fish while Loki chuckled to himself.
“Well said, Shield Brother,” Loki agreed. “Yes, Glenn Smith, Clint Barton is what you would call a bad man.”
“He also reads minds as a parlor trick,” Clint supplied as the younger man blushed furiously. “The only good man out of the three of us is Steve.”
Chapter 4: Jean Shopping
I love comments, gimme!
Darcy tugged on the dry pair of Iron Man undies that she kept in her bag for emergencies.
The week previous it’d been Captain America and the week before that Hawkeye. It was just his symbol but Clint took the time to make all sorts of lewd jokes about how he’d been in Darcy’s pants. Which had actually happened but both denied that the first drunken weekend. Even though they both woke up with intimate tattoos thanks to Darcy’s tattoo artist friend and they both liked to play chicken about showing the rest of the team to see how far the other would go. Darcy’s lip print was tattooed in purple right above Clint’s crotch while a blue bow with crossed arrows decorated her inner right thigh. After that they sometimes slept together both the literal kind and the sexy kind.
The same symbol graced the top of her messenger bag since it’d been a gift from Clint. Steve had drawn his shield on one of the pockets after a night of crying, mostly her, once he found out that she was one of his grandchildren. Since then he’d met her Cousin Jake, who was currently dating/ courting Loki, Jake’s sister Jill and her daughter, Heather. Commander Fury commented that Cap’s performance improved greatly after he’d found out. Clint told her he’d known the second he’d seen them stand side by side due to the face they shared the same eyes. Jake shared similar facial features.
She jumped at the bang against the changing room door.
“Be out in a minute!” Darcy yelled then she smelled something. It reminded her of rancid meat left in the sun too long. Daryl mentioned ‘walkers’ which Darcy figured were some sort of zombie by his description. Which meant it wasn’t Daryl on the other side of the door. Fuck.
She reached into her bag for the gun and silencer that Fury insisted she learn to use and carry. Headshot for fifty points. Darcy gripped the door handle, twisted and shoved hard. By the time she cleared the door the walker was on the ground.
Don’t think, react. Clint’s advice echoed in her ears.
A shot to the head or what was left of it made it stop moving. The face had been chewed on while the clothing was in rags. Darcy needed to find Daryl, who’d gone to look for jeans. Her feet slapped on the floor and she skidded around a shelf of shirts.
Another walker in a cheerleader uniform.
The twang of a bowstring reached her ears as the bolt whistled past her face close enough for her to feel the fletching on her cheek. It buried itself in something behind her that fell with a heavy thud. Darcy looked up to see Daryl with his crossbow aimed at her. Her heart beat louder.
When she’d opened her eyes and saw him looking down at her, she thought she’d been dreaming. His eyes were like the sky before a storm. Deep blue that she could swim in forever. His twang was like honey to her ears. He lowered the crossbow and Darcy felt herself moving towards him. Granted she used to have a thing for guys with muscles but working as what was basically an attaché to the Avengers cured her of it. But Daryl’s body made her want to climb him.
Darcy threw her arms around his neck, dangling the gun. Daryl wrapped an arm around her waist. His lips were chapped but not too badly. He kissed hesitantly until Darcy unabashedly ground herself against him then it was like an onslaught. A hand found its way to her ass and squeezed.
“Not here,” he whispered against her lips.
“Not secure. I should probably find pants,” Darcy agreed and let him go. “So, zombies.”
“Walkers,” he corrected as he led her back to the changing rooms. “Where’d ya learn ta shoot?”
“Clint taught me since Commander Fury insisted on it,” Darcy grabbed a couple of jeans off of a rack as she passed it. He sat on the bench in the changing room. “He got me up every day at five in the fucking morning and told me the more bulls eyes I hit, the sooner I could go back to sleep.”
As tempting as it was to grab the emergency condom out of her Hello Kitty compact, she knew they needed to leave. She tore the tags off of the jeans, tried them both on, and put the extra in her bag. Daryl followed her wordlessly to the shoe section then disappeared to find her socks. Darcy picked a pair of boots then met him half way in the underwear section. She tore through the packages to get as many pairs of black underwear she could. Pepper made sure she was kept stocked up on black panties and the Avengers ones. She managed to find a couple of bras in her size and delighted in the fact that Daryl’s eyes widened when he saw her size.
“So, what kind of practice did you have?” Darcy asked once they were leaving. Daryl’s truck was one of the newer models. Huge but could probably run someone over easily.
“Nuthin’ formal. Still worked construction,” Daryl shrugged. “Student loans ‘n’ shit. Plus some of my clients didn’t wanna sit on some couch.
“Easier to get someone to talk if they’re working. Good strategy,” Darcy agreed before she hauled herself into the passenger’s side. “What age group did you specialize in?”
“Jus’ took anyone in town,” he told her. “Didn’t charge much. Sometimes took food as payment since people was so poor. Was teachin’ one girl horse back ridin’ afore all this happened. She had social anxiety. Liked horses, I used that ta get her ta talk ta me.”
“We could use a therapist like you at the Avenger’s Initiative. Between Tony’s egomania and Loki’s daddy issues things get interesting,” Darcy laughed. “Especially when it’s group therapy.”
She guessed they were avoiding the subject of the kiss. Which was a shame since she was perfectly willing to do it again whenever he wanted.
Chapter 5: Shattered Glass
Carl sat next to his very pregnant mom as Loki worked magic.
The blue man waved his hands over a chocolate bar and some empty cups. With a faint green spark the cups were filled with hot chocolate. Steve passed them out as Clint adjusted his leg. Clint reminded Carl of Daryl. After Hershel cleared him, the archer went hunting with Loki and dragged back two deer by the next day. Steve preferred to help around the farm.
“I sing to thee the song of my down fall,” Loki began. Since their first night on the farm, the three took turns telling stories. Carl liked Steve’s stories the best because they were usually about the war or the Avengers. Clint’s stories always included the missing Darcy and Loki’s were long and full of words. “I fell for love and surrendered for honor.”
Maggie sighed, Carl knew she loved mushy stories. Glenn and Andrea sat at rapt attention while his parents sat on either side of him. The Greene family and friends relaxed on various chairs while Shane leaned against the wall, watching Loki who watched him in return. Loki breathed in then out and Carl knew he was going to use an illusion.
“You strong enough, Ki?” Steve asked. The Asgardian sat on the floor in borrowed clothing since his leather and armor were unneeded. “You can borrow some of mine.”
“My thanks, shield brother,” Loki said. Carl wanted to learn magic but his mom said no and even when he tried to ask Loki to teach him, the tall man told him that humans couldn’t do magic. Steve clapped a hand onto Loki’s shoulder. “Small things, illusions.”
The living room melted away to a city street. Cars drove past, people walked by and noise of the living invaded Carl’s ears. Loki walked down the street in a gray business suit and hounds tooth scarf, his black hair slicked back. At his side was a girl dressed the exact opposite of Loki in a black tunic, matching leggings and large sweater. Knee high purple boots complimented the outfit. Her brunette hair wildly framing her blue eyes and plump lips that talked a mile a minute.
She held onto Loki’s arm.
“Jake is totes going to be mad that we’re late,” the girl said. “But I’ll tell him that it’s my fault.”
“No need, Sweet Darcy,” Loki replied. “He will forgive me when I tell him the news.”
“Totally awesome news!” Darcy squealed as they entered a café.
In the corner booth was a man who looked like a skinner version of Steve. Carl saw that he had a goatee and glasses. His pink shirt read ‘Go Petunias!’ The man got up and hugged Darcy then kissed Loki. The three sat down and were in the process of ordering when the room shook.
“That’s weird,” Darcy commented. “Tell him!”
“I will get there, Shield Sister,” Loki turned to Jake. “For the love I have for you, I am going to surrender myself and renounce my plan to conquer this world.”
“And I’m going to use my mad negotiation skills to help him out,” Darcy added on. “Happy belated birthday!”
Before Jake could answer the building shook and glass shattered. Loki shoved Jake onto the seat to cover him as the glass rained down. Clint appeared out of nowhere to pull Darcy to the floor. The archer was in the leather uniform he’d arrived at the farm in.
“Were you following me?” Darcy asked, her eye ablaze with anger.
“I was in the neighborhood and saw you here,” Clint answered. “Hey, Loki.”
“Clint Barton,” the Asgardian acknowledged. “What is going on?”
“Doctor Doom and another mechanical nightmare, I think it’s supposed to be a crocodile or some fucking thing like that,” Clint answered. “Mind assisting? It’d make you look good.”
“You were following me!” Darcy snarled. The archer simply kissed her forehead and winked.
“I would be honored,” Loki answered. “Forgive me, Jacob. Battle calls.”
“Go have fun, I’ll see you later,” Jake said. Loki kissed Jake before he went out the window. Carl thought he sounded a lot like Steve.
“Thanks for this, Clint,” the brunette girl said and pushed him up. “I owe ya.”
“Don’t mention it,” the archer strung his bow before unzipping his quiver. “Do I get a kiss? Loki got one.”
Darcy rolled her eye as if it was the worst chore in the world then took Clint’s face in her hands. The kiss was quick. She slapped him on the ass as he went out the window after Loki. The two left behind stared as Loki summoned up doppelgangers and sent them up against the mechanized crocodile. Men in identical uniforms ran towards the Asgardian. Clint stood on top of a car and fired arrows that exploded at the points where the men were going to be. A blur of blue, red, and white hit Loki in the back. Jake screamed and went to go to Loki except a Spanish man appeared.
“Cougs! Let me go!” Jake snarled as the shorter man held him back. “I will fucking beat you down.”
“Get him out of here, Cougar. You guys are still on the most wanted list,” Darcy ordered. Cougar nodded and dragged Jake kicking and screaming out of view.
Loki got back up while a green monster jumped on the crocodile. A larger, blonde man landed between the robot and the men, thunder crackling from the hammer he held. Darcy braced herself behind the car Clint was on as Loki wavered for a moment. Captain America punched him and Loki allowed for the hit to land. The assault continued on for a few minutes before Darcy ran to Loki. Clint leapt off of the car to follow.
“What are you doing!?” Captain America demanded as Darcy held a now bloody and bruised Loki to her. The Asgardian clutched her arms while she looked up. “Move, doll face.”
“Fuck you, no!” Darcy said. She covered Loki’s body with her own. “He was trying to help!”
“It could be a trick!” Cap shouted back. He was fast approaching the two. Clint stepped between them, arrow nocked and ready to go. “Move, Hawkeye.”
“No,” Clint stated. “She’s right.”
“How do you know she’s right?” The taller Avenger demanded. “The Scum probably charmed her or something.”
“She’s an excellent judge of character. Gets it from you,” Clint spat as he sidled in front of the two. “And that Scum is dating your grandson.”
“Brother!” The large man with the hammer called from across the battle field. “Are you well?!”
“I will be fine, Thor!” Loki yelled back.
“Darcy is my…she’s my…what are you telling me, Barton?” Captain America asked and shoved his cowl off, blonde hair mussed. Thor lumbered over to take his brother from Darcy. “Is it true?”
“Yes, I’m your granddaughter,” Darcy confirmed.
“No to interrupt your touching family reunion but I need to formally surrender myself,” Loki coughed and Clint lowered his bow. “I, Loki Odinson, surrender myself to Captain American and henceforth will no longer terrorize this planet.”
“I accept,” Steve said and held out his hand.
The illusion ended.
Carl looked around the room. Many of the women were crying while most of the men looked at the three again, as if they were measuring strength. Steve yawned as he sat back in his chair. Clint ruffled Loki’s hair.
“That’s Darcy?” Andrea asked. “How is she your granddaughter? You look so young.”
“In all of her glory,” Steve answered. “I was frozen in ice for the better part of a century.”
“Another round of hot chocolate is in order for the next tale,” Loki announced. “Clint, I believe I shall tell the one about when I switched out your arrows.”
“Not funny, Ki,” the archer snorted as he slapped a hand on the blue man’s shoulder.
Magic kicked butt.
Chapter 6: Go Petunias
“You lost my cousin, grandfather, and boyfriend how?” Jake Jensen asked in utter disbelief. Tony Stark had tracked him and Cougar down to bring them to the Avengers Tower in New York. “And they are where?”
“Steve shield bashed some Skrull technology at the same moment Loki dimension hopped. They are somewhere,” Jane explained. “We’re just trying to figure out where.”
“Why am I here?” The hacker asked again.
Clay pitched an epic fit when Tony Stark showed up on the doorstep of their safe house to collect Jensen and Cougar. It mostly consisted of the Colonel trying to get the billionaire to fight him, which almost happened but Pepper intervened.
“Simple, Jensen the Loser, you share genetics with Lady Darcy and Steve Rogers,” Thor explained. Jensen’s sides still hurt from the hug the demigod had given him. “And my brother loves you, that connection crosses dimensions. If we can reinforce that connection, maybe we can use the Bifrost to bring them to Asgard then Earth.”
His jaw dropped. Who knew Thor could come up with something that smart? He sure as shit didn’t. Next to him Cougar snickered and pulled down the brim on his cowboy hat. Hidden depths and all that jazz. The hacker sighed as he was led to a room paneled with some sort of crystal. Thor sat on the floor and gestured for Jensen to sit across from him.
“Now concentrate,” Thor instructed and took Jensen’s hands. “Depending on my brother’s strength, it will only last so long.”
He remembered when he first met Loki. The Trickster had followed Darcy to a rave that Jensen agreed to meet her at. It hadn’t been a surprise that he found Clint Barton with his cousin and a strikingly handsome man in a corner booth doing shots. By the end of the night, he found himself making out with Loki. It was good manners to know the name of the person you’re having Hawt Make Outs with. Clint dragged Darcy to some dark corner. He always forgot to ask his cousin what was up with the two of them.
Thor’s hands swallowed Jensen’s as the demigod began to hum something under his breath. The room began to blur and his eye lids felt like they weighed a million pounds.
“Just allow yourself to drift, you will seek them out,” Thor’s voice rumbled in his ears as the room fell away.
Darkness and the roar of wind.
“Darcy?” A voice with a Southern twang said.
Jensen struggled to open his eyes. A tiled ceiling met his eyes before a man’s face appeared over his. The hacker thought the mole was absolutely adorable even if the blue eyes practically sparked with panic.
“Darcy?” The man said again.
Jensen slipped away when something that tasted like ozone slid across his tongue.
There you are.
Yes, my love?
“Where are you?” He asked and attempted to reach out to his lover. “Ki, come home.”
A chuckle reverberated in the darkness.
Impatient as always. This will hurt.
Electric pain ran through Jensen. Someone sang softly in Spanish and cradled him close while a heartbeat rhythmically away under his cheek. Thor’s hands held onto his livewire ones while light flashed under his eye lids. Loki’s voice chanted under it all, like a cat stalking through long grass.
Then something snapped and the universe was quiet.
Cougar’s smile met his eyes when Jensen managed to open them again. The Spaniard held on even as his teammate practically knocked them over when they stood. Thor smiled like lightening while etching something into the floor with what looked like a glass cutter.
“I followed your path to my brother. My heart knows it and now we will bring them home,” Thor announced. “In one month’s time-“
“A month?” The shorter man repeated. “I went through all of that just to wait a month?!”
“My brother must have time to collect his strength since he will be the anchor for the others when we use the Bifrost,” Thor explained. “Have hope, Jacob Jensen, we will bring them home.”
Chapter 7: Run Deep
Daryl brushed Darcy’s wet hair out of her face. He’d heard her fall from the kitchen with a strangled scream. He ran a hand through her hair in search of injury while her body soaked his clothes. She’d opened her eyes. In place of the opulent blue he’d come to know and like, there’d be green mixed in. The color only lasted for a moment and faded back to her normal eye color before rolling back into her head.
“Darcy, come back ta me, girl,” Daryl cajoled. She opened her eyes and he practically thanked whatever Powers out loud that they were the perfect blue.
“Daryl?” Darcy said, her hand gripped his flannel. “Why am I naked and wet?”
“Ya fell in th’ shower,” he explained. “Didn’t even look at ya or nothin’.”
“Why not?” Her smile blinded him.
Before he could answer, her lips were on his. Soft and sweet. Patient with a whisper of desire. Something oh so unlike the kiss at the mall, where it’d been about survival and being alive. He nipped her lower lip before standing. He silently congratulated himself for not falling over with her in his arms. Once on her feet, Darcy shoved him against the sink. The impact hurt and he would’ve noticed if she hadn’t been trying to divest him of his clothing.
“Wait,” Daryl wanted to kick his own ass. “Not in th’ bathroom.”
“Lead the way,” she breathed against his lips. She sidled away from him quickly but not quick enough to prevent Daryl from seeing a flash of blue on her right thigh. “Coming, Doctor Dixon?”
Her voice made him shudder from the sheer implication. He stripped off his soaked shirt, left it on the floor of the bathroom as she disappeared into the bedroom. Daryl used one hand to brace himself against the sink to kick off his boots. His socks and pants joined the pile before he went to her. She shot him a perplexed look as he walked past the bed to do a quick circuit of the loft to check the locks. When he got back to the bedroom, she’d laid back with her arms over her head.
“Perimeter secure?” Darcy asked, an eyebrow quirked up.
He crawled onto the bed.
“What does yer tattoo mean?” Daryl asked as he idly traced the design with calloused fingertips. “It is yer star sign or somethin’?”
Things were possibly about to get awkward. Clint usually sent potential suitors running just by existing. Daryl, she hoped, would be different. Instead of the vicious Leave Bruises for Days sex Darcy expected, there’d been Drawn Out Gentle sex. After they’d both cleaned up, he’d lain on his side to face her and began to talk. Darcy didn’t know whether to laugh then make a joke about him taking the stereotypical female role or cry because he was more than he appeared to be.
“It’s Hawkeye’s original emblem. The one Coulson rejected when the Avengers started up,” Darcy explained. “Ever had a Drunk weekend? This tattoo and its companion were the results.”
“Hawkeye is yer friend Clint’s codename?” Daryl asked. She nodded. “What’s the deal wit’ you two?”
“We’re best friends who live together and sometimes have monkey sex. Usually after one of his missions goes sideways,” Darcy confessed since honesty was good and all that Hallmark crap. “So, yeah.”
“Ya guys aren’t together or nothin’ like that?” Daryle kissed the inside of her wrist. Darcy shook her head as he wrapped an arm around her waist. For all the rough and kick ass Daryl wore as armor, his inside decorated itself in humor and sweetness. “Jus’ askin’ so I don’t get into a fight.”
“You going toe to toe with my master class assassin best friend would be totes awkward for me,” she agreed. He pulled her closer. “Why’d you leave your group?”
“Got sick of bein’ the whippin’ boy,” he confessed. She kissed the side of his neck.
That made Darcy angry. Over the past week he’d imparted stories of his old group mostly the ones about how they were great big bags of dicks to him. Asking him to torture a kid, calling him a pedophile, and generally not thanking him for all the work HE did to insure their survival. She could see why he pulled away. Stories with Merle left her torn between anger and joy since in most of his stories Daryl went above and beyond for his brother.
She knew on the inside Daryl was a mother hen. Granted a mother hen that whose archery skill probably rivaled Clint’s but a doting, caring person none the less. Their current safe house was a furnished attic above a garage and he’d spent two days making it secure and managed to have a knock down drag out argument with her about her scavenging things from the main house. Small touches when he passed by her or the extra blanket when he’d been sleeping on the couch showed he cared.
And that she cared back made it worse.
She wanted to take him back with her. To show him a living world even if ridiculously costumed super villains tried to destroy it weekly. Let him meet the rest of the Avengers and be safe with her. Tears burned her eyes while her heart swelled just a little. There were rules though and she knew that in her dimension there could be his doppelganger and if they ever touched there would be a risk of dimensional collapse.
“What ya cryin’ for?” He asked, kissed her tears away. “I didn’t hurt ya did I?”
“No, I’m fine,” Darcy lied. “Girl moment but the crisis is over now.”
“I should hope so, Shield Sister,” Loki’s voice startled her. Daryl’s body moved from her so quickly she only felt the sheet move as he grabbed his crossbow then covered her. “Do not be alarmed, Daryl Dixon, you are merely seeing me in my natural state.”
“Loki’s a jotun or frost giant. He’s vain enough to glamor himself so he’s not all blue all the time. Did you keep up the glamor because Tony kept making Smurf jokes?” Darcy asked and placed a hand on Daryl’s crossbow. She pushed it down. “Is this you or a copy?”
“A copy, Sweet Darcy,” Loki answered. He flickered for effect. “I made contact with Jacob and my brother. In a few weeks’ time I will be strong enough to anchor the force of the Bifrost. I do believe Tony Stark owes me fifty human dollars.”
“Why does Tony owe you money?” Darcy asked while Daryl yanked on his boxers.
“He bet me that you and Clint Barton did not have complimenting tattoos just matching ones,” Loki eyed her up. “It appears that I have won.”
“You are so buying me something nice with that money,” the Intern shot back. “What’s the order, Ki?”
“Daryl Dixon is to bring you to the Greene family farm. I have been informed that he knows where it is,” Loki stated. “Steve would like to extend to him an invitation to stay in our quarters. We are not pleased by their treatment of him.”
“Where y’all stayin’?” Daryl asked. His body lost some of its tension once Loki mentioned their displeasure.
“The hayloft in the barn. See you soon, Darcy. Quick journey, Daryl,” Loki said before he flickered away.
“They like you,” Darcy commented. “That’s a good thing. The last guy I brought back to the Mansion pissed off Natasha and ended up somewhere that ended in ‘Stan’. Plus if you get Loki’s Stamp of Approval. Only Clint has it at the moment and that was after he helped prank Fury.”
“Wish I could see ya workplace,” the hunter whispered.
She didn’t want to echo that she wished he could too.
Chapter 8: Like Harry Potter
“Again!” Clint’s voice bellowed across the field. “I have all day, Ladies!”
Glenn winced at the archer’s tone.
He pulled back the bow string again. The muscles in his arms hurt and his skin stung from where the bowstring hit skin. Next to him Andrea and Maggie nocked arrows. He knew they were doing better than he was because Clint only bellowed when Glenn messed up. Loki lounged on the fence, still blue. Glenn thought the red eyes were eerie. Steve simply stated that they loved Loki just the way he’d been created. The Korean always managed to catch the jotun eyeing up Shane, who seemed to be having a run of terrible luck that started when the three showed up to the farm.
The officer managed to sprain his ankle then get bruised ribs. His gun jammed at practice while his clothing ripped to the point of being rags. Glenn suspected Steve and Clint knew what was going on but the two ‘Avengers’ kept quiet. Loki insisted on wearing what Glenn guessed were his leathers and a green tunic that just appeared when the blue man outfitted Steve. Clint managed to scavenge clothing on a trip to town with Steve as well as several random items.
“Korea! Turn your arm!” The archer yelled. Glenn wished he’d opted for self-defense with Steve since the super human seemed to be a nicer instructor. At least it wasn’t ‘Chinaman’ or something more derogatory. “Farm Girl! Don’t slouch!”
Glenn saw Clint tense up. Then the archer took off running and once he cleared the fence, Loki slithered off to follow. A top of the line truck pulled up the drive way with Daryl and Darcy in it. Steve stood in front of the truck as it stopped while Darcy dug at her seat belt. Glenn got to the fence when he saw her exit the truck and Steve open his arms. Loki and Clint stopped a few feet from them.
“Steve!” Her voice echoed as she threw herself into his arms. The First Avenger spun her around with a big grin on his face. “I missed you!”
“Don’t ever scare me like that, doll face,” Steve answered as he put her down. He kissed the top of her head. “I’ll ground you again.”
Glenn climbed over the fence. Darcy looked around, spotted Clint. The archer turned for a moment, ran a hand through his hair before turning back. He’d be willing to bet that the archer was trying to not to cry. Not that the former Pizza Boy would mention it to anyone. Ever. The girl walked over to him and smiled. The proverbial dam broke. Clint wrapped himself around her which threw them both off balance. Loki chuckled as the two hit the ground, whispering furiously at each other. Daryl slammed the car door, crossbow at his side while Steve intercepted him. The superhuman shook the redneck’s hand before the two walked over to Clint who kissed Darcy on her forehead then lips lightly. Darcy stroked the archer’s cheek before she threaded her fingers in the hair at the nape of his neck. Loki reached down to pluck the girl from the Avenger while Steve helped Clint to his feet. The jotun lifted her up then held her like was a missing stuffed animal. The Korean’s eyes widened as Clint bear hugged Daryl.
“Yer welcome. Let me go,” Daryl managed as Darcy and Loki laughed.
“Shield Brother, I do believe that we need to get Daryl Dixon settled in our quarters,” Loki said as he kept one arm securely around Darcy while staring at Shane. “Take Darcy, I must have words with Rick Grimes.”
Glen managed to meet the group half way to the barn. Daryl trailed behind them, looking both unsure and curious. Darcy paused for a moment to wait for him then took the hunter’s hand once he caught up. Clint walked back to throw an arm around Daryl and Glenn snorted. Leave it to the two emotionally constipated men to get along.
“Glenn, this is my granddaughter, Darcy,” Steve introduced.
“I’ve heard a lot about you. You’re a kick ass chick,” Glenn blurted out. She smiled and he knew his mouth would dig the proverbial hole deeper. “So how long have you and Clint been together?”
“We just do the horizontal mambo on occasion, Korea,” Darcy answered and ran a finger over the welts on his arm. “You should really get an arm guard, padawan.”
“Sith or Jedi?” Glenn asked. “More importantly, Alliance or Horde?”
“Alliance, motherfucker,” she grinned while Glenn’s eyes narrowed. “Seems to be a Hordie in my midst.”
After what could be called an Epic Staring Contest, they both started to laugh. He tagged along to the barn. He hadn’t been in it since before the winter so he gaped when he saw the inside. Instead of roughhewn wood and hay there was a lavish living room complete with couches that he could probably sink into and get lost between the cushions. Through a door in the back of the barn, he saw a massive tub.
“Like Harry Potter,” Glenn breathed.
“Hanging around with Loki has its perks,” Clint agreed. “Back to the range, Korea. You too, Lewis. I Picked up some gear for you in town. Suit up. Door on the left.”
“Yes, Agent Barton,” Darcy rolled her eyes and scampered off to the room Clint pointed to.
Glenn rubbed his arm as Daryl went to follow Darcy. Clint shoulder checked him which caused the red neck to stumble. Steve sighed and crossed his massive arms. Daryl went to shove the archer back but instead of flesh met air. The blonde swung his leg out, caught the brunette in the knee and Daryl went down. Clint reached a hand down. A look of surprise fluttered over Clint’s face as he fell after Daryl kicked out at his ankle. Both men burst out laughing.
“You’ve got potential, Dixon,” Clint declared before pushing himself up. “Could teach you a few tricks if you want.”
“Sounds good,” Daryl replied. “Damn, baby, ya clean up nice.”
“You should see me at a Stark Benefit Dinner,” Darcy laughed and Glenn jumped a little because he didn’t hear her reenter the room. “How was your pissing contest?”
Then he noticed her outfit.
It matched Clint’s almost too perfectly. Black tactical pants with matching tank top and boots except where Clint preferred to strap his quiver to his back, hers was attached to her thigh. Her bow could pass for the twin of the archer’s. Glenn nearly sobbed in jealously when he saw her arm guards.
“No pissing contest, Lewis. Just gauging his raw talent,” Clint said. “Aside from tracking, does he have any more tricks?”
“He’s a certified shrink. Doctor Dixon,” Darcy sing songed which caused Daryl’s ears to pink at the tips.
Glenn could only stare.
Chapter 9: The Man Price
Steve swung the sledge hammer then grunted as it hit its mark. The post sank into the ground and he wished it would be the last one. It was maybe number fifteen, if not some lower number. Loki had disappeared before Steve could enlist the jotun to help fix the fence in the west pasture. Clint gave Darcy the control over the ‘training’ sessions while he tormented Daryl. The First Avenger knew that what the archer taught the hunter would be beyond everyone else in the rest of the group. The two seemed to have bonded over bolts and arrows as well as Darcy. To her credit, his granddaughter merely laughed when the two were brought to blows over her. There was nothing serious over it, Daryl’s temper simply got the best of him and Clint was making Daryl practice what he learned.
“Ya got a moment, Captain?” Rick asked. Steve would never admit that he’d been startled.
“Sure thing, Boss,” Steve replied and rested against the post. “I really appreciate you vouching for us.”
“Was my pleasure,” the Sheriff looked around. “Do ya think I’m a decent man?”
“You’re one of the best I’ve met,” the Avenger shrugged then went to grab his canteen. “Why do you ask?”
“It’s about your man Loki.”
“What did Loki do?” The blonde carefully ground out his words.
“He made me an offer. A temptin’ offer,” Rick answered. “Tol’ me somethin’ bad. You know my wife is gonna have a baby any day now.”
“And here I was thinking it was kittens,” Steve laughed, hoping humor would lift the mantle of seriousness that over took them. “What did he offer you?”
“That he’d deliver my child and both of them would survive.” Rick looked off into the distance. Steve knew that look better than he would ever admit. A man at war with himself. “If I let him hunt down Shane.”
“The wergild. He does that,” Steve answered. “You’re torn between the lives of your family and the life of your best friend.”
Rick kept silent.
“Glenn probably told you that Loki likes to hunt pedophiles. He also hunts serial killers for fun. I don’t trust Shane and I think he’s done some bad things. But you know that,” Steve stated as if it were a known fact. He’d seen the tan man eyeing up Darcy so he’d ordered Clint to be around her when he wasn’t training Daryl. Loki substituted at those times. “If you accept, you can negotiate terms. Like for him to make it quick.”
“Thanks for listenin’, Steve. I’ll send Daryl out to help ya,” Rick turned around and began to head back to the house. The Sheriff stopped and looked back. “Does Darcy not like us?”
“You’ll have to take that up with her,” Steve answered even though he knew why the Intern had been giving the group what could basically be called ‘The Silent Treatment’. She thought they should apologize to Daryl for their treatment of him. “Watch out, she has a nasty right hook.”
The other man smiled a little.
A while later Daryl huffed up with work gloves on. Steve worked quietly with the hunter even as Daryl’s entire body radiated tension. When he’d managed to corner Darcy, he interrogated her about the man who’d brought her back then turned down any boon Loki tried to give him. For some reason the brunette man managed to attract dirt like Tony attracted explosions. He recognized certain mannerisms he’d seen in the kids in his old neighborhood whose fathers ruled their houses with heavy hand. Except for Darcy, the hunter guarded his words when around the rest of them. He kept away from people and stuttered when someone thanked him.
“You going to tell me what’s wrong, Daryl?” Steve asked and almost tripped over himself when sharp blue eyes glanced up at him. Fury he’d only seen in Thor’s eyes when someone he loved been hurt.
“Nothin’, Hoss,” Daryl answered. Cap waited a moment. “Darcy.”
“What did my granddaughter do now?” Steve moved down the line, two posts over his shoulder.
“Nothin’. Jus’ feel she should be with Clint or somethin’ like that,” Daryl confessed. “She’s too good for me.”
“You got that damned straight,” Steve agreed. “She’s too good for anyone but she picked you, Daryl. That should say something to you about her.”
“Shane was sayin’ ta Lori-“
“Fuck them,” Steve’s own eyes widened with Daryl’s when he’d realized he’d actually used Jake’s favorite word. “I wouldn’t worry about Shane much longer.”
“Loki?” Daryl asked.
“He’s hunting tonight?” Clint asked as he propped his feet up on the table.
“Ya ain’t goin’!” Daryl’s voice rang though the barn.
“I am so going!” Darcy’s voice bellowed back.
“Yes. Darcy’s going to be bait since Shane’s been practically stalking her and undermining Daryl’s confidence,” Steve answered. “Why are you not in there with Daryl protesting?”
“I trained her plus Loki will be there,” Clint shrugged before shoveling more food into his mouth as something glass shattered in the other room. “Daryl’s going to follow her.”
Darcy stormed into the room, all fury, passion, and anticipation made flesh. She’d kept her jeans and boots but added the vest Clint got for her. No weapons except for her boot knife. Daryl walked in after her, face drawn tight.
“Ya ain’t goin’, Darcy,” Daryl repeated and crossed his arms.
“I am so going, Dixon,” the Intern answered slowly as if he didn’t speak English. “Clint can vouch for my abilities.”
“Don’t drag me into your lover’s quarrel,” the archer protested.
“Just like how you never dragged Natasha into ours?” Darcy raised an eyebrow as she crossed her arms while Clint squirmed under his gaze. “Or how you made Coulson forbid me from getting training from anyone but you?”
“Daryl, Darcy’s abilities are above and beyond what she needs to help Loki tonight,” Clint stood up, brushed his pants off and disappeared into his room. “Manipulative wench.”
“I heard that, Barton!” Darcy called after him.
Steve almost opened his mouth when Daryl went to open his but both were interrupted by Loki, who swept into the room with such flair that Darcy clapped. The jotun dressed himself in leather pants with his dark hair in braids. The elaborate scars on his chest were painted over white. The First Avenger heard that Loki and Darcy had a particular ritual when it came to the “Hunts” but never saw it for himself.
“Hunting, Milord?” Darcy asked, the smirk in her voice clear. She produced a sheathed knife then offered it to him before she fastened it around his waist. “To keep you safe.”
“Thank you, My Lady,” Loki replied and took her hand. He placed a kiss on her knuckles. “May your endeavor be fruitful as well.”
“Either of you run into walkers, you run away,” Steve ordered. “Be back by dawn.”
Chapter 10: Fire Cleanses
Sorry for the delay. Had to move and then it took forever to get interwebs.
Shane slipped down another hill as he searched for the bitch. She'd been within his grasp but then the air rippled as she disappeared to only reappear next to him. Fire laced through his leg when he hit a rock and it seemed to him that the very land itself wanted to trip him up. Her body crossed his vision and he renewed his pursuit, dragging his injured leg. He'd known she wanted him to follow her when she'd looked at him. Darcy tripped over a stick and the deputy practically heard the crack of her head as she hit the ground. Her body crumpled. Went still. He saw how Dixon followed her like a lost soul, always within shouting distance while Agent Barton hid himself somewhere near her. Shane would show her what it would be like to be with a real man.
Shane went to roll her onto her back.
"I ain't gonna stop if ta touch her," Dixon's voice broke the quiet. Shane looked up in time to see the business end of the redneck's cross bow. "Move, pig."
"Gentlemen, there is no need to fight," Darcy said only it wasn't her voice that came out of plump lips but Loki's sly one. Green eyes peered at the both of them. Shane tried to move away only to find himself anchored to the ground. "I am quite pleased this facsimile. Thank you, Daryl Dixon, for adding to the authenticity."
"Th' hell ya goin' on about?" Daryl snarled. "Where's mah woman?"
"Ooohh, possessive pronouns," Darcy slipped out from nothingness.
"Why?" Daryl asked.
"Because I would owe her a boon for this and her assistance in the birth of Shane Walsh's child," Darcy's features melted away as the body on the ground elongated. Turned into Loki with leather and metal while brunette hair darkened as he stood up. "This will hurt, Darcy."
"So you keep telling me. Just get it over with, Ki," she replied.
"Wait jus' a damned minute. What boon and what are ya doin' wit' Ki?" Daryl's questions grew louder as Shane struggled against his bonds. "Answer me, Woman!"
"I'm doing it for you," Darcy replied. She allowed Loki to pull her into his long arms and the two men could only watch as the jotun's long fingers ghosted over the girl's face. Loki lowered his lips to her forehead while a green glow encased two. The intern began to go slack as her eyes slid closed.
Shane never liked Loki since every time the Asgardian appeared, something bad happened to the him. His gun jammed or his ankle rolled while green eyes laughed at him. He swore he saw Loki in reflective surfaces as if the outsider hunted him from the other side. There were times that the human didn't feel alone in his head that someone was combing through his thoughts rather violently.
"Take her, Daryl Dixon," Loki commanded then handed Darcy off to the redneck. "She will sleep until morning."
"I wanna boon," Daryl demanded. "Next time ya use me, not her."
"I cannot do that. Our energies are different. Your world consists of an odd balance now and for every life there is a death that needs to be paid," Loki's voice sonorous in the clearing. "If you were of my dimension then the trade would be fair."
The deputy heard leaves crunch then felt himself be lifted up. Loki's aristocratic face came into his field of vision. Orbs of light floated around them, illuminating the darkness and causing shadows to flicker over the planes of his captor's face. Shane tried to speak and nothing came out.
"I have taken your voice, Shane Walsh. No need for conversation during the work that we do this night," Loki said. "Take heart, your life for your daughter's and the mother that will bore her. Enough will come of your death to keep the balance."
Shane hissed when the knife slid across his arm.
Loki slid his tongue carefully across the blade. The blood tasted different from Clint's, there was something hiding within it. A contaminate that he suspected held the key to the infection that birthed the Walkers. Something happened in this dimension that triggered the very genetics of its people to acquire such a nasty surprise. On Asgard magic was close kin to science to the point where the lines sometimes blurred. He did not need machinery to alter the genetics of humans, their code still simple enough to easily manipulate.
"Rick Grimes informed me that this affliction does not only activate through being bitten but reanimates the body once its owner is dead," Loki droned on. "I asked Darcy Lewis for something and offered a boon. Anything she wanted. She told me she wanted Daryl Dixon, to save him from this."
He watched the deputy struggle against the earthen shackles.
"In order to grant the boon I have promised, I must find a way to free Daryl Dixon of this dimension's affliction. Nicholas Fury would be most displeased if a plague occurred or worse, it being used as a weapon," he eyed the blade. "This will hurt."
Magic and science were one in the same for him. Instead of becoming a master of arms, Loki chose to become a master of the mind. His father summoned the best teachers and mages to teach Loki while Thor learned from the best weapons masters. He thought for a moment on how to proceed. To cleanse the blood would be easy but tissue and other biological components would be harder. Layers, of all blasted things, layers with one shot to get it correct. Test subjects were far and few between.
"Fire cleanses while water heals," Loki repeated the words of his alchemy teacher from all those years ago. "All things can be returned to a base state."
Green flame came to life on his fingertips. It spread to his hands and stopped at the wrist before Loki plunged into Shane's chest. He rewrote bone first, then flesh and nerve. It became difficult as the deputy began to flail and strain against his shackles. Loki felt sweat began to drip down his back. He slipped into a state of pure concentration. He ran his hands over lungs, flesh, and veins. Coaxed green fire to follow tainted blood to change it back to the original design before whatever changed it. If he had more time, Loki entertained the thought that he would find how the mutation came to be.
"Time for a break," Loki sighed and allowed himself to pull his hands from Shane' body before he took a moment to study the human. The deputy's eyes were glassy as if the murderer retreated into himself to escape the pain. The jotun hoped Daryl Dixon had been bred of sterner stuff.
He waited a full day before he cut Shane again. Loki ignored the glare to taste the blood. He tried not to be pleased with himself when the blood tasted like Clint's. Now the only factor was if his work would revert to the mutated state. Twenty four hours would suit.
So he waited some more
At dusk of the next day he tasted the blood again. It still tasted pure.
"Rick Grimes negotiated a quick death for you in honor of the memory of your friendship," Loki told Shane as he circled the bound human. "Most noble of him. A lesser man would have asked for pain."
Loki took the knife, poised it over Shane's heart.
"May you find peace, Shane Walsh," Loki intoned before he pressed down. Bone crunched as the blade slipped through then into the human's heart. He listened as blood flooded lung and flesh until the final death rattle.
The Asgardian left the knife in as he settled down to wait yet again.
When the sun hung high in the sky, Loki knew he'd been successful. The corpse did not raise and its blood remained the same. With a few whispered words he invoked a low level fire spell to send the husk of Shane Walsh to whatever end he'd wished for. He would not bear the name oath breaker.
Chapter 11: Paid in Full
Daryl dropped the arrow he’d been fletching.
Screams from the house.
He watched Clint scale the side of the house like he did it every day. The hunter took the stairs as Darcy screamed again. His blood boiled. Someone was going to die but the scene that greeted him was not what he expected. Lori lay on the bed with glassy eyes staring at the ceiling while Loki sliced her carefully open with an ornate knife. Clint had positioned Darcy between his legs, sweating with a leather belt in her mouth. The archer managed to brace himself between the wall and the bed with an arm around the intern’s waist and another around her shoulder.
“Wha’ th’ hell is goin’ on here?” Daryl demanded from the doorway.
“Lori Grimes is giving birth to a healthy baby girl and Darcy is bearing her pain,” Loki explained as if they’d been talking about the weather. “For you, Daryl Dixon, she agreed to do this.”
He moved to kneel next to Clint and Darcy. Her liquid blue eyes clouded over like her sanity fled once Lori’s labor pains began. Clint’s steel blue met his eyes with the impassiveness he’d only seen the archer use on targets. His heart ached as the love of what would probably be his very short life strained in Hawkeye’s arms. He went to take her from the other man who only held her tighter and shook his head.
“If she manages to bite hard enough to break skin we don’t know if your blood will infect her,” Clint explained. “The belt should work but we can’t be too careful.”
“I’m sorry, baby,” Daryl told her.
He leaned against the bed. Clint whispered something in Darcy’s ear too faint for the hunter to catch. He found that their familiarity didn’t bother him anymore when Darcy’s body lost some of its tension. The archer never left her side in the few days after Daryl brought her back but when dark fell on the first night Clint hugged the intern good night before heading to his room. Darcy dragged the hunter into her room and shoved him onto the bed. She made life feel less like a chore and more like if he could just stay with her that all of his struggles would be worth it.
“Congratulations, Rick Grimes, you have fathered a healthy baby girl,” Loki lied. Daryl heard the baby squall and fuss. He knew the jotun lied smoothly with a magician’s flourish. “Your wife is resting and I took the liberty of healing her thoroughly. Hershel will attend to her after care.”
Daryl moved out of the way as Loki moved to take Darcy from Clint. He ran long fingers through her sweat soaked hair and murmured into her ear. The hunter held out a hand to help the archer up. Clint stretched. Daryl heard his back pop. They both followed Loki out of the room then halted at the door of the bathroom when a green glare stopped them where they stood. Somehow they ended up on the roof with a six pack of scavenged beer between them.
“Wha’ does Darcy do fer ya exactly? She like a junior Avenger or somthin’?” Daryl asked after Clint took a swig of the warm beer. Darcy told him work stories but it seemed like she did everything. He guessed her position was an important one since she lived in a mansion.
“Keeps us human. Well, human enough,” Clint mused. “But her official title is ‘Domestic Facilitator’ or she does all the ‘normal’ things we never have time to do. Pick up the dry cleaning, hanging out when you’re sick. Plans awesome nights out at the bar. Couslon is looking to poach her when she gets her Masters and Stark wants to beat him to it.”
“How didja meet?” Daryl flung his bottle cap over the edge.
“The Puente Antigua Incident. I was sent to do surveillance and she tazered me,” Clint began. “The intel given to me stated that both Dr. Foster and her intern slept in a trailer attached to the property. So to get a feel for the place I used the trap door on the roof. She’d been on the couch in the common area watching Doctor Who. Dropped me like a bad habit. I woke up a few hours later on the floor.”
Daryl smirked and tried to ignore the feeling of satisfaction at the thought of the master assassin being caught off guard.
“I’ve killed for her,” Clint said suddenly. “Fuck if that girl doesn’t know how to set up shop in a guy.”
He’d kill for Darcy if given the opportunity.
“Who’d ya kill?” Daryl asked. He rolled the bottle between his hands.
“This megalomaniac Coulson wanted alive. He had a knife to Darcy’s throat so I shot him through the temple,” Hawkeye confessed. “I don’t regret it. Director Fury nearly skinned my ass until Darcy got in his face. Never saw him back down so quickly. After that the order came down to train her.”
“Loki was sayin’ she did this all fer me.”
“She is. We’re taking your ass with us when we go, Dixon. I can’t wait to see the look on Fury’s face. He’ll probably burst another blood vessel and have to go back to anger management counseling.”
He dropped the bottle. It rolled off the roof and he heard the sound of it shattering. Rick told them they were all infected and he doubted that SHIELD had a cure somewhere in their labs. He couldn’t go without risk. What if he bled on or infected someone?
“I cain’t go,” every part of him screamed in protest as the words fell from his mouth. “I’m infected.”
“Blue Boy has that under wraps. You are coming with us, Rebel Yell,” Clint said.
“Rebel Yell?” Daryl repeated.
“Your code name or one of the potential ones,” the archer laughed. “Darcy’s call sign is Mister. Steve thinks we could use you as a tracker or you could lead one of the beta teams. The Wolverine is sort of unreliable.”
“As a shot to the chest,” Clint confirmed.
A few hours later Daryl found himself outside of Darcy’s room. Steve lay on the bed next to her, reading aloud from a book as his granddaughter curled up against his side. She looked so small under his arm. Daryl remembered trying to wrap his head around the pictures she’d showed him of the Avengers on her IPod. If he went with them then he’d be a part of that. He kind of wanted it. He’d spent some time on the roof after Clint left to plan. He wanted to make sure he could support himself without relying on Darcy because he was a man and men didn’t lie around all day while their woman worked her ass off. Maybe after a few years he could open his own practice.
“Are you going to stand out there all night?” Steve’s voice jarred him out of his thoughts. The superhuman placed the book down.
“How is she doin’?” Daryl asked.
“Sleeping. The whole process took a lot out of her,” Steve replied. “I never thought I’d be such a lucky fella. I woke up and the world had changed. I spent most of my time in the gym until Peggy’s ghost found me only it wasn’t her. Darcy ordered me to shower then meet her in the lobby. Her heart is so large that she took the time to take me out to the world.”
“Y’all serious ‘bout takin’ me wit ya?” Daryl asked.
“Yes,” Steve answered as he slowly extracted himself from Darcy’s embrace. “No monkey business tonight.”
Chapter 12: Too Good
Steve knew that they’d been living on borrowed time.
Being friends with a trickster always made him aware that if things in a time of chaos were too good to be true; they were. He leapt over another fence. Braced himself as the earth gave way under him before he continued on to the house.
He’d been in town scavenging for tools when the herd of walkers drifted into town. The First Avenger slipped out the back in an attempt to avoid contact only to find that there were more than he anticipated.
“Incoming!” He shouted the word he and Clint agreed on if things went sideways. Steve barreled past the barn as Hawkeye dropped from his perch on the barn’s roof. “Suit up then get Darcy and Loki out here. Have Daryl clear the house. We’ll hold them off then catch up.”
Clint nodded as they hit the porch.
“Lewis! Odinsson! Suit up! We have incoming!” The archer shouted. “Dixon! Come here!”
The First Avenger ducked into a closet and pulled on his uniform as quickly as he could within the confines of the tiny space. He grabbed his shield but left his cowl down as he exited the closet. He heard the sounds of people rushing through the house and knew that they’d never be able to come back to the place they’d made home. The house shook after the whistle of an arrow and the boom of an explosion. It caused Steve to speed up. Between Loki and Clint there would be an increased risk of wild fire that could possibly cut off their escape route. Darcy ran behind the jotun and assassin, picking off crawling walkers with Clint’s side arm.
He threw his shield into the approaching horde. He tried to aim high for head shots but the varying heights of the walkers allowed for a large margin of error. Green shots of energy blazed past him while shouting faded into the back ground. They held the line as time melted away. It became automatic even if Clint ran out of arrows and had to resort to his remaining side arm.
Golden light struck the earth around them.
“No!” Loki screamed. “Heimdall! Not yet!”
Steve felt himself go weightless.
Every part of him disintegrated yet he still felt whole. Stars and universes rushed past him while Loki held onto him. He tried to look for Darcy and Clint but couldn’t find them in the rush of being pulled towards some unknown destination. Cold metal greeted his cheek while his body felt heavy. A keening cry made him struggle even harder to get to his feet. He forced his eyes open.
“Steve Rogers! You survived the journey on the Bifrost!” Thor’s booming voice washed over the First Avenger, who simply shrugged as he looked for Darcy and Clint. “Brother! You look most dashing in your natural skin!”
Captain America stood in a room of gold while a golden city lay at the end of a flashing rainbow bridge. His limbs caused him to tilt slightly as he moved to where Darcy clutched Clint. The archer wrapped himself around the distraught girl. He’d tangled his legs in hers while one arm anchored her by the waist to him while the other arm held her close to him by the shoulders. Hawkeye’s lips were buried in her hair and murmuring reassurances while she cried like her heart tore itself apart in transit.
“Is the Lady Darcy injured?” Thor asked.
“We left her lover behind, brother,” Loki informed him.
“But Clint Barton is here,” the thunder god pointed out.
“I got replaced and we left him,” Clint snorted.
Steve bounced a ball against the wall of the cell SHIELD had placed him and Darcy in for quarantine. Clint stood in a similar cell across from theirs. The archer paced his as he stared at Darcy. His granddaughter went catatonic after the physicians on Asgard cleared them of any malady before sending them back to Earth where Loki had been whisked away by Commander Fury for debriefing.
“Fuck this,” Darcy whispered.
Steve caught the ball.
“Enough being Bella Swan. Time to Hermione Granger this bitch,” Darcy announced as she sat up. Clint threw his arms in the air. “Get over here, Archer Boy.”
“Are you feeling better, doll?” Steve asked.
“Still feeling a bit weepy but some ice cream will send me back to my last save point,” she answered and moved out of the way before Clint dropped down from the ceiling. “We get Eye Patch Mcgee to authorize a second mission and we’ll retrieve Daryl.”
“And if I refuse, Miss Lewis?”
Commander Fury stood on the other side of the glass with his arms behind his back and what could be mistaken for merriment in his one good eye. Everyone knew that their self-proclaimed badass commander had a soft spot for the intern.
“Mad ninja skills,” Darcy whispered.
Steve could not agree more.
He watched the three in the quarantine cell and absently made note to ask Barton how he managed to pry loose military grade steel to get into the duct system. Rogers and Barton had the sense to look contrite as the spitfire of a girl walked up to the glass. She’d lost some weight but her blue eyes still watched him with banked fire. Loki assured him that another expedition to retrieve Daryl Dixon and the Asgardian also assured him that there was no doppelganger in their dimension that could be used against SHIELD.
“I’ll rearrange your meeting schedule then mess up your lunch orders,” Darcy threatened as she crossed her arms. “Or I’ll become your arch nemesis and the next awesome super villain.”
“I guess I will have to concede then, Miss Lewis. You have a strong argument,” Fury said. He rapped on the glass. “Once medical clears you, report to my office.”
He strode out of the quarantine level.
Loki sat in the small area assigned for social interaction in his office, a chess board in front of him while he twirled the queen between spidery fingers. Fury warily approached the god. He’d come to appreciate the cautious friendship that managed to form during Loki’s rehabilitation.
“Darcy has soldiered up,” Fury informed the Asgardian. “I am going to put you in charge of planning the mission.”
The taller man placed the queen on the board.
“Send my brother, the Man of Iron, the Cougar and the Widow,” Loki commanded. “I will follow in spirit to connect the dimensions and lead them. I suspect you will want someone to debrief the team. Make the Hawk do it.”
“Your little boy toy is in the lab with Stark and Banner developing tech that will allow us to have eyes and ears,” Fury said. He agreed with Loki’s plan but would never tell the newest Avenger so. “I’ll go over your plan and add revisions if need be.”
“As it suits you, Nicholas Fury,” Loki conceded before he flickered out of existence.
He signed the paperwork to release Captain Rogers, Agent Barton, and Agent Lewis out of quarantine and he made note to tell Darcy that her paperwork to become put ‘Agent’ on her already massive job description had gone through. He kept her existence a secret from his superiors since her methods were less than official but effective.
They had a standing action movie working lunch once a week.
Fury began to write up the paper work.
Chapter 13: Catspaw Tango
Cougar assembled his rifle while Jensen held a soldering iron to a motherboard he was modifying.
Everyone going on the mission and everyone who spent time in the alternate universe except for Darcy were slated to start formal preparations the next day. The hacker set the iron down on its stand before he stood up to stretch. The sniper held up his rifle to check the scope as a flash of green illuminated the room. He liked Jensen’s boyfriend even though there were times when the two ranged from sugary sweet to absolutely annoying.
“Jacob, I have returned,” Loki announced. His suit immaculate and hair slicked back like an advertisement in GQ magazine.
“Don’t you Jacob me,” Jensen snapped. His red hot dog shirt streaked with grease and other unknown substances. “You went missing for days after you got back. Nice to know I’m important, Ki.”
“I was embarrassed,” Loki admitted. Cougar pretended to be enthralled by his scope and messed up the focus on purpose. It gave him something to do. “I spent my energies keeping the humans from ricocheting off the Bifrost. I would not have you gaze upon me in the state that followed.”
“I don’t care about what you look like, Ki! I love you for who you are!” Jensen yelled. “Big fucking deal that your skin is really blue!”
“Jotuns are monsters,” Loki stated. “Asgardian children fear them as boogey men.”
Cougar’s head snapped up.
Loki’s skin faded to blue with spiraled markings. It reminded the sniper of glaciers and ocean waters even if his red eyes gave echoing memories of fresh blood. The adopted Odinsson cast eyes to the ground. Like an animal waiting for a blow. Jensen crossed the length of the workshop to pull his wayward boyfriend into his arms. Instead of freezing or turning blue himself, the hacker sealed his lips to Loki’s.
“How are you not frozen?” Loki’s voice held a symphony of confusion and wonderment.
“Super soldier genes,” Jensen explained. His teammate knew the hacker healed quickly but that seemed to be the only thing Jensen got from his grandfather. Darcy seemed to have inherited Steven Rogers’ intelligence. “Love you no matter what you wear, Loki.”
“As touching as this is, we have work to do,” Tony Stark declared as he walked into the workshop with a box under his arm. “Going to need you too, Blue Boy. Hacker, back behind the bench.”
“Whatever, Playboy,” Jensen retorted.
Cougar shook his head. When they’d been hunting Max the hacker made friends with JARVIS when he’d broke into Stark’s Malibu home which resulted in the two becoming thick as thieves. The AI liked to help Jensen with pranking Tony, who took it as a great insult. The Spaniard knew that Jensen and JARVIS often competed in online tournaments against each other for fun. Clint and Thor joined them once JARVIS announced that Steve Rogers and Darcy Lewis were no longer on site. He regarded Dr. Banner warily when the scientist arrived with a large cup of something steaming and a stack of note cards. The Widow tilted her head in acknowledgement when she sat next to Cougar.
“JARVIS, if you could lower the lights,” Tony requested. “Then run Legolas’ presentation.”
“Of course, Sir,” JARVIS replied as the lights lowered and light flickered over the conference table.
A picture of a scruffy looking man with blue eyes and a crossbow floated over the black surface. Stats began to rapidly appear next to the picture. Clint walked around to the front of the table. The archer moved with silence that rivaled Cougar’s ability. When Darcy brought Clint to a family get together the sniper knew the two had something going on and even now he could smell the cinnamon and vanilla of Darcy’s body spray mixed with the older man’s signature cheap soap and sweat smell. When in Civvies their clothing smelled of the same detergent.
Cougar still wanted to know if the tattoos were an urban legend or not.
“This is Daryl Dixon whose tentative code name is Rebel Yell,” Clint began and crossed his arms while Natasha subtly placed a hand on Cougar’s knee. “My observations of his skill set would make him a valuable asset to SHIELD. In addition to various combat skills, he has extreme aptitude when it comes to survival and tracking.”
“So? We can get the Wolverine for that,” Tony snorted. Cougar could tell the meeting was boring him because the billionaire had begun to sketch out schematics on his hundred dollar jeans. “Worst case scenario we get Short, Silent, and Spanish here to do it for us.”
Jensen snickered at Tony’s personal nickname for Cougar. The sniper’s nickname for Iron Man could not be translated properly in to English or spoken aloud in polite society.
“What Agent Barton is trying to say is that he also comes with a doctorate in psychology,” Dr. Banner spoke up. “Something this team could desperately use.”
“We can steal people with the same skills as this guy,” Tony continued on. “C’mon give him a mullet and he’s a bouncer at a roadhouse.”
“Darcy’s in love with him,” Clint’s voice flat.
Cougar raised an eyebrow.
“Then let’s go get the lad,” Tony said. It was a ‘Secret to Everybody’ as Jensen titled it that the Avengers and Company loved Darcy and would do anything to keep her happy. “I got the memo that you want me and Point Break to go with you, Carlos and Natasha.”
“We will do glorious battle against the draugr!” Thor exclaimed. The Asgardian clapped a hand on Loki’s shoulder. “My brother will guide us there and maintain our connection to the Bifrost!”
“Draugr?” Jensen repeated. “That’s Norse for zombie. No one said anything about zombies. In fact, let’s stop using the Z-Word and refer back to them as ZED.”
“Walkers,” Clint and Loki corrected in unison.
“The virus has developed into the genetic code of the people,” Loki said. “There are two ways for one to become draugr. The first is the result of a bite. It accelerates the virus much like that of a komodo dragon with symptoms developing within hours depending on the location of the wound. Fever, death then reanimation. The second is if the victim dies a natural death then the virus reanimates the corpse.”
“And you want to bring this plague carrier here?” Jensen asked. “Ki, you of all people should know that’s a totes bad idea. Like Wheatly bad.”
“Through some experimentation I learned that as long as the genetic code is rewritten starting from its foundation then the virus is eradicated,” the jotun continued on. “It is only a matter of the patient surviving the treatment.”
“How many experiments did you do?” Dr. Banner asked. “What is your plan if it doesn’t take?”
“One,” Loki shimmered back into his glamour. “Clint Barton has volunteered his services if it does not take.”
“We are going to need those communicators to be able to work across dimensions,” Hawkeye took back the conversation. “Ki is going to work with Tony and Corporal Petunia to make this happen. Asgard will be our control for this.”
Cougar listened idly as Jensen reported what he’d managed to construct after getting the memo while Natasha’s hand began to travel steadily upwards. Clint cleared his throat before he handed them a file that detailed how to kill the Walkers efficiently.
Shot to the head.
A month later the sniper found himself in Puente Antiguo wearing something close to Hawkeye’s costume. Same vest but with fatigue pants, contrary to the rumors Jensen once spread around Bragg, Cougar hated leather pants. His leather cowboy hat hung low over his eyes while his rifle rested across his knees. They were waiting for Thor to finish giving his lady love a ‘proper farewell.’
“Swear they’re going to have sex in there,” Hawkeye commented from his place next to Cougar. His bow rested next to him. “Tasha is scaring the driver since she’s impatient.”
“Si,” Cougar agreed.
Snipers were a close knit bunch. Everyone knew everyone else or had been trained by the same person. Hawkeye originally trained Cougar. Not even Jensen knew that with his hacker skills and the Spaniard would never tell Natasha.
“Tu ames hermanita?” Cougar asked. He half expected the other sharp shooter to spill forth ‘love is for children’ like the Widow had done when she’d heard Jensen tell Loki ‘I love you.’
“Enough to go rescue her boyfriend from zombies,” Hawkeye answered. “Nat, what is Tony’s ETA?”
“He’s t-minus two minutes out. He’ll meet us at the Bifrost site,” the Russian replied. She reached over to lay on the horn. “Thunder Boy! Let’s go!”
Cougar suspected that Natasha regarded Darcy as a sister since the red headed woman spent most of her free time volunteering to keep Darcy away from the labs as they tested equipment and planned. She’d camped out on the couches in Darcy and Clint’s suite during the month.
Natasha held her hand on the horn again.
They’d kept Darcy out of the loop even though the whole thing came at her behest through Fury. The Director wanted to keep it quiet because if they failed, it would be easier to lie and say that travel to the dimension was locked under some alien statute. And Loki would have to tell her that while Clint carried the burden of Daryl’s death at his hands. The Russian prayed to something that Loki would be able to yank the virus out of their target. Thor loped out of the gas station then climbed into the back with Clint and Carlos.
“Drive,” she ordered.
Once they were at the Bifrost site, she and Clint checked each other over quickly before she moved to check Carlos. The sniper smiled at her motions and kissed her hand as a ‘Thank You.’ Their fling was fun even if Bruce glared at Cougar. She hoped it caused the scientist to make his move. She opened the box Jensen had given them before they’d left New York. After she placed her com in her ear she passed it to Clint. A low sonic boom announced Tony’s arrival.
“Let’s get this over with,” Clint said as he rolled his shoulders. He plucked his bow to test the tension then slipped it over his head. “Thor, get this started.”
“HIEMDALL!! WE ARE READY!” Thor bellowed into the sky.
Natasha went to hang onto Tony’s right side while Cougar shouldered his rifle then went to hang on the armored man’s left. Fury assigned Clint as leader for the mission so her partner was engulfed by Thor in a bear hug. She closed her eyes when she saw the golden light. Felt her body almost come apart while silence over took everything.
Sound returned when her body felt the impact of Tony landing.
They stood in the middle of a ruined field. She gingerly stepped over still decaying bodies as they jogged towards a burned out barn. Thor brought his hammer down on a walker’s head with a triumphant roar. Once they got near the farmhouse, they inspected each body and dispatched the ones still moving around. Tony flew in a circuit around the area.
“Base, this is Hawkeye. Do you copy?” Clint said.
“Roger Wilco, Hawk Ass, we hear you,” Jensen’s voice come over their coms. “Arrive safely?”
“Affirmative,” Clint answered. “Rebel Yell is not here. Going to expand search.”
“He is in a prison twenty miles north,” Loki’s doppelganger appeared next to Cougar. “I am currently with him. Transportation may be difficult. He is injured.”
Natasha hoped for the first time since child hood.
Chapter 14: It's in the Blood
Sorry for the massive delay in updating....life happens and all that.
Daryl threw his shoulder against the chain link door again.
Sharp pain laced through weak flesh where it impacted. The walkers on the other side of the chain link at the far end of the work out yard moaned when the skin split open. They’d left him as bait to draw attention while they escaped.
At least they left him with his stuff.
No gun though.
An herd of walkers had been spotted the previous night before he’d been knocked unconscious by Andrea. He knew he hadn’t been the most reasonable person after Darcy left. The hunter missed her and mostly managed to catch himself when he went to turn to say something to her. He snapped at the women then started the fights with the men. The redneck knew he’d been grieving but no one else thought he was capable of feelings.
He settled under a bolted down picnic table to escape the Georgia sun.
He’d inventoried everything.
Five gallons of water and a case of power bars their fearless leader left with him as compensation for knocking the redneck out then locking him in a cage to bait the sharks. Walkers two deep surrounded the three sides of the yard.
Daryl dumped Darcy’s bag out in front of him.
A bottle of pain killers, a few trade paperbacks, headphones, a note book, some tampons, a package of squished Pop Tarts, and some pens.
It’d been in the saddle bags of his bike.
Daryl missed her.
He woke up once night fell.
He swore into the night as the walkers moaned in reply.
He’d been dreaming about Her.
Heat blazed down on him.
He shivered from the infection in his arm. He regretted the attempt he made to scale the wall attached to the prison. Instead the hunter only managed to shred his arm on the barbed wire. He’d washed it out as best he could with half of his remaining water then downed some pain killers.
“This is quite the death trap you’ve stumbled into, Daryl Dixon.”
Daryl began to laugh because he thought he heard Loki’s voice. Green eyes framed by black hair swam in his vision as ghost like touches skittered over his skin. His laughter hit a higher pitch when he realized he was probably hallucinating.
“The fever has overcome you, Daryl Dixon,” Loki chided. “Not to worry, my brother and the cavalry are on their way. You must not slip away.”
“I’ll try not ta,” Daryl promised.
He felt the ground shake and managed to roll his head in the direction the vibrations originated from only to find that his hallucinations ramped up their efforts in being bizarre. A lion haired man in a red cape brought down a hammer that sparked and rang while a volley of bullets finished off the walkers that the lightening missed. A man in a gold and red metal suit landed in the fray then tossed three black blurs over the barbed wire topped fence.
“Sorry we’re late. Traffic was a bitch,” Clint’s voice reached his ears. “Base, this is Hawkeye, Rebel Yell has been found. Prepping for extraction. You look like shit, Mason-Dixon.”
“Good ta see ya too, Barton,” the hunter coughed. “Even if I’m jus’ seein’ shit.”
“Is he always this charming?” A feminine voice asked as his arm was moved. Hands turned his head and light was shined into his eyes. When it left, he saw a gorgeous red headed woman. The Widow if he remembered Darcy’s descriptions right. “His fever is spiking. We’re going to have to move him soon.”
The redneck tried to pull his arm back when something wet and cold caused it to sting. Leather clad hands held him down while he heard a third person curse in Spanish. The prick of a needle caused him to wince but the fire in his veins calmed slightly.
“Time to pack it in, boys and girls,” a mechanized voice ordered. A low pulsing whine followed by a man laughing deep from his belly assaulted his ears.
The Widow tied a black cloth over his eyes while the moans of the walkers faded away. Someone covered in scale like armor picked him up then held him close. He smelled Clint and the man that held the both of them smelled like the air before a summer storm.
“Steven Rogers will certainly be disappointed that he missed the glorious battle with the draugr!” The bellowing voice reverberated through Daryl. The name Thor skipped at the edge of his tongue. “Open the Bifrost!”
Sound returned when he felt himself placed on something flat and hard. His body felt like it would fly to pieces if someone jostled him wrong. The heat was returning, like the injection’s purpose was to keep him together during transit. He weakly tried to fight back when shackles were snapped around his wrists and ankles. He merely submitted when leather was placed between his teeth.
“This will be the longest night of your life, Daryl Dixon,” Loki’s melodic voice echoed in his ears as his clothes were cut off. “But you will live through the pain for Darcy. If you die, I will find you and drag you back.”
His muffled screams echoed off golden walls.
Clint sat next to the hospital bed with goggles and with the lower half of his face eclipsed by SHIELD’s newest prototype breather. In order to slip the Op and Daryl past certain channels, the order was for everything to be done by the book like a standard prisoner extraction. He’d dressed in full gear with his side arm at the ready. He studied the other man while monitors beeped.
The archer watched while Loki burned the virus from Daryl’s almost broken body. The hunter screamed for hours even after his voice gave out. Silent and opened mouthed while Clint and Cougar held vigil. Thor and Tony fled the medical chamber after ten minutes. Natasha went to write their doctored reports. He just watched. Loki worked non-stop even after his glamour began to flicker in and out. They’d drugged Daryl for the ride home then for most of the tests the Science Bros performed to check Loki’s work.
“Where are we?” Daryl whispered. He pulled at the restraints as if to test them.
“Quarantine,” Clint winced at his muffled voice. “Fury is waiting for the results from the blood tests.”
“What gonna happen if I don’ pass?” Daryl asked. Clint tried to think of the way to explain he’d be the one who would take care of that. “Ya here ta kill me if I don’ pass.”
“Grant a dyin’ man’s request?” The hunter said and Clint nodded again. “I don’ pass, marry Darcy.”
“What?” Clint felt his eye brows reach his hairline. “You want me to what?”
“Marry Darcy so’s she’s taken care of,” Daryl explained. “Not tha’ she cain’t take care of herself jus’ for my peace of mind.”
Clint knew the man in the hospital bed was the better man. Instead of begging for his life the walker killing boy asked for the taser loving girl to be taken care of. The assassin thought about the hunter’s request. Darcy understood that commitment for Clint meant a major life evaluation which he’d gone through when they’d moved into the same apartment. He liked how she shuffled into their kitchenette in search of coffee and how she always made him a plate if she cooked. After they’d returned to their dimension they’d slept in the same bed. At most they’d kiss sleepily after waking before they both remembered what had happened to them. But at the thought of marriage he winced since it meant the absolute surrender of soul and heart.
There were worse ways to go he supposed.
“If it comes down to it,” the archer agreed.
“Looks like you’ll be saved from the ball and chain, Agent,” Director Fury’s voice echoed through the room as the leather clad man strode in the doorway. “You’re clean, Dixon. Agent Romanov will be doing your evaluation so we can check Barton’s reports on your skills.”
“Understood, Sir,” Daryl said.
Chapter 15: But a Concerned Friend
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Tony Stark liked to think he was not a busy body but a concerned friend. He sat in an uncomfortable folding chair while Loki and Thor hashed out yet another brotherly misunderstanding. Doctor Dixon sighed then told them to go build something. Tony hadn’t thought much of the almost zombie that they’d pulled across dimensions until Daryl cleared quarantine then avoided Darcy like he owed her money. By JARVIS’ count two months passed. He glanced over at Steve, who hunched over a clipboard, writing letters to people who frustrated him. It came to no surprise that ‘Dear Tony’ graced most of those letters. Clint and Natasha sat together, pointedly ignoring each other. The two assassins finally hashed out their buried issues and neither seemed to like it.
“We gonna talk ‘bout yer Pa today or are ya gonna give me th’ run around?” Daryl asked as he settled into an equally uncomfortable chair next to the billionaire. “Thor! Let go of yer brother!”
“Quid pro qou, Appalachia,” Tony said. “I’ll answer a question if you answer one of mine. I’ll go first since I’m hosting this little tea party. Why haven’t you told Darcy you aren’t walker food? And that you’re rocking Armani like a pro?”
Daryl looked around as if the words for his answer were scrawled on the wall behind Tony. He watched blue eyes almost sigh. For someone who Loki exalted to be like an Asgardian warrior and who Steve went on record to say ‘A damn nice guy’, Country Bumpkin exuded fear.
“Don’ think she’d wanna see me,” Daryl stated.
“You’re bad with girls,” Tony said. “Just show up, she’s interrogating Fury for the past week. He sent her and Foster back to New Mexico to get some peace.”
Daryl leveled him with a look.
“You can take one of my private jets. I’ll get JARVIS to call Happy to give you a ride to my private air strip,” he took out his Starkphone to begin preparations. “I would go get packed, Mason-Dixon Line.”
Tony counted it as a win when the therapist left.
Darcy turned the camper onto the main drag of Puente Antigua. Jane sent her out to take pictures of the Mew Mew site because the intern may have reorganized the entire lab. She alphabetized the Pop Tart cabinet then tried to move the white boards from smallest to largest. Clint texted her to send pictures of Jane’s mad face to show Thor, who would probably fly out to make sure his lady love hadn’t broken a nail killing Darcy.
One of SHIELD’s standard black Humvees was parked in her spot.
Her lips lifted in a snarl when she saw Clint lounging on the hood of the vehicle. All too cool for school in his sniper shades. She parked the camper then got out to try to shove him off balance. He just snorted and pulled her into a hug. He smelled like his cheap aftershave and recycled air.
“Guy in there wants to talk about your retrieval proposal,” Clint told her. He let her go. “Give him Hell.”
Oh she totally would. Along with a few choice words and telling the asshole about how they could shove the reams of paperwork she’d filled out down his throat and choke on it. She marched into the lab, all flannel and rage, towards the man with his back to her. Probably never had any experience in the field; that suit was Armani , tailored to the man’s form. No telltale sign of a gun.
“Listen, fucker, it’s been too many fucking months. I submit paperwork, I get the run around. Suzy Floozy in Accounting submits hers and gets a new computer in a week,” Darcy began. She grabbed the agent’s shoulder then spun him around. “I’m talk-“
Words died in her throat.
“Sorry ‘bout bein’ late,” Daryl apologized. Blue eyes smirking with mischief.
She kissed him stupid as revenge.
And here, dear friends, is the end.