Phil Coulson, Agent of SHIELD gets two weeks of vacation a year. Which he almost never takes. Especially since he became attached to the Avengers Initiative. Because the last time that Coulson took a vacation, Stark decided to use his absence to push through paperwork allowing him to redub the voice commands in Coulson’s office. Now the only way that Phil can get into his office is say the phrase “I’m Phil Coulson, and this is my favorite store on the Citadel.”
This year Coulson decided that he did in fact need to get away from the Avengers, so he took a week off and traveled down to visit the home of one his all-time favorite artists, Elvis Presley. He was just finishing up his tour of Graceland when he walked by a tourist attraction near the gates. People could have their pictures taken in front of a large picture of the Graceland gates. Standing in front of the backdrop was an average family…except for the fact that standing next to the small female child was what looked like a blue animal in a white jumpsuit.
Coulson made his career out of staying calm in precarious situations. He edged closer to the group and listened as the girl talked to the blue being. “Stitch, you have to be good. Memphis isn’t a huge city, so you should be able to control yourself. Remember what I told you: Model Citizen, not alien terror.”
Phil sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He could already feel a headache building behind his eyes. Seemed like his vacation was going to be cut short. He pulled out his phone and dialed a number. When the call connected, he said “This is Agent Coulson with SHIELD. I need to speak with someone in the SWORD division. I think I may have found the whereabouts of Experiment 626.”
4. Tony Stark
Tony was accustomed to things being done in a very particular order. It was a simple order. Tony liked things done his way. Why was that so hard for people to figure out? Pepper said that he was being “unreasonable” while Tony said he was being “perfectly accommodating.” Whoever was right (Tony) or wrong (Pepper), it didn’t really matter. Tony was in Alaska to give a talk on the spacial physics of the Northern Lights. Jane Foster and he had been working on establishing a new Bifrost bridge.
He took a sip of his (third) glass of scotch and looked over the program. There were some interesting speakers coming up. As he waited for the next person to take the podium, the wall nearest to him exploded in a spray of rubble. He dove under the table and reached for the Iron Man armor secured in his briefcase. As he hand closed over the handle, a blue Volkswagen Beetle Bug soared over his head, crashing into a nearby buffet stand. A small blue creature followed the car into the room.
He stopped, picked up the car in one of his clawed hands and used the other to make himself an ice cream sundae. The creature turned and caught Tony looking at him. He smiled, revealing rows of sharp teeth.
“H…hi!” The being swung the car around and tossed it back out the hole he’d made in the wall.
“Blue Punch Buggy!!” the creature laughed manically as he trotted back out, eating his ice cream as he went. Tony decides that maybe he needs to stop drinking so much.
3. Steve Rogers
Steve is in a Barnes and Nobles bookstore. He likes that he can find a small corner of the massive multiple level store and sit and read quietly to himself for a few hours. The 21st century is so busy and loud. He relishes the silence of the bookstore. He’s so engrossed in reading that it takes him a minute to pick up the voices coming from near his feet. He sits up and looks at the child talking to him. She looks to be about 6 or 7 and is accompanied by the strangest looking dog (at least he thinks it may be a dog. There are lots of designer breeds now. Tony told him about one called a Golden Doodle) he has ever seen.
“I’m looking for a book on taking care of fish. Nani says I’m not supposed to feed Pudge peanut butter. But he likes peanut butter! I have to keep Pudge happy. He controls the weather.”
Steve blinks several times as he processes what the girl just said. “You have a fish…that controls the weather?” She smiles and shakes her head at him. She then hands him a book that the dog was holding. “Here --It seems like you might like this one.” She quickly walks away and the dog smiles at him, then follows her. Steve looks down at the book she placed in his hands.
The Ugly Duckling
2. Bruce Banner
Bruce likes tropical environments. The heat seems to calm him, which is always a good thing. He’s doing some free clinic work in a small town in Hawaii when he hears rumors of a little girl and her dog. He’s heard that this particular child has had behavior problems stemming from the loss of her parents. Anger issues are something that Bruce knows about in spades, so he tries to track her down.
He finds her at the local dance studio. She’s waiting for her sister to arrive to pick her up. It’s clear that she’s been crying. He sits next to her on the stairs. She gives him a glance out of the corner of her eye. “What do you want? “ she asks.
Bruce smiles. “I just want to talk.”
She actually snorts at him. “Lots of people want to talk to me. Maybe I don’t want to talk.” She lies down and waves her hand at him in a clear gesture of dismissal. “Leave me alone to die, mortal.”
Bruce smothers a smile into his hand. He reaches into his pocket and hands her the small card with his number on it. “Well then, maybe someday you can talk and I can listen.” With that, Bruce walks away. He glances back in time to see her slip the card into the pocket of her dress.
A week goes by before his disposable cell phone rings. He answers it, and is immediately assaulted by the sounds of a struggle. He can hear yells and crashes in the background. “Lilo!” Bruce yells into the phone.
He takes quick breathes and tries to lower his blood pressure. Finally the small voice answers.
“Mr. Banner! I think I may be ready to talk now! There are aliens in my house and their trying to take my dog Stitch back to their alien homeworld!”
Bruce breaks into a jog as he heads up the road towards the house that Lilo lives in with her sister. Lilo seems to be talking to someone in the background. He hears a power tool kick to life. Lilo turns her attention back to him.
“Oh wait…its ok now, Mr. Banner. My dog found the chainsaw. I think we got this. Thanks for listening!” The line goes dead, and now Bruce does Hulk out. The resulting damage to the house is blamed on him and he quickly finds himself fleeing into South America.
It’s rare that Thor gets anything in the mail. Normally any correspondences for him arrive from Asgard in a flash of light. Fury has revoked Thor’s internet access after the 5th broken laptop. So it comes as a surprise to everyone at Avenger Mansion when a small, white envelope arrives on a Monday morning addressed to Thor Odinsson, c/o the Avengers, New York City. The Thunder God opens the letter and scans the contents. He makes a surprised noise, then folds up the letter.
Clint breaks the silence. “Ok, Big Guy…what was that all about?”
Thor shrugs. “It is a notice from the Grand Councilwoman of the United Intergalactic Federation that an alien life form named Stitch has been exiled to Earth. She thought as a designated protector of this realm that I should be aware of this creature’s existence.”
Thor takes in the stupefied looks of his teammates. Coulson extends his hand. “May I borrow that letter, Thor? There seem to be some phone calls I need to make.”
Of all the things that Loki was expecting when he teleported into the Avenger’s mansion, a small child and a blue…creature were not it. He slowly approached the kitchen table where the two sat. The girl was coloring on a stack of papers and the creature was eating a piece of cake. Perhaps this was some new invention of Starks?
As he entered the kitchen, the girl looked up. “Hi! I’m Lilo, and this is Stitch. Who are you?”
“I am Loki.” He glanced around the room. No other Avengers seemed to be present. “May I ask where the others have gotten to, Lilo?”
She continued to color on the paper in front of her. “They’re in a meeting. My social worker Mr. Bubbles says that we have to stay here while he talks to the Avengers and Mr. Fury. We’re in trouble because of Stitch,” she leaned over and poked the blue creature. “But it’s not really his fault. It’s his destructive programming. He can’t help himself. He backed up sewers, reversed street signs, and stole a lot of people’s left shoes. We were going to go to Memphis, but then we decided to come to Manhattan instead. Stitch is irresistible drawn to large cities.”
Loki cocked an eyebrow at the child. “Mr. Bubbles. Stitch. Stolen left shoes. What manner of creature are you?” Stitch turned and looked Loki over.
“I.am.Stich. This is my family.” Stitch smiled widely at him.
“Stitch used to be an alien experiment. He didn’t have a family. Then he came here and I adopted him from the shelter because some people thought he was a dog. He’s really strong and nice and I taught him all about Elvis Presley!” Lilo finally looked up from the papers she was coloring on.
“I’ve seen you on the TV, Mr. Loki. Nani says that you do bad things. That sometimes you hurt people,” She held up one of the pictures that she had drawn. It was meant, Loki thought, to resemble him.
“This” Lilo indicated the person in the picture, “is you. And this” she indicated a red line that bisected the upper chest of the drawing. Everything below the line was red. “This is your badness level. It’s unusually high for someone your size. We are going to need to work on that. But it’s ok! I helped Stitch to become a model citizen, and I’m sure that I can help you.”
Loki stood abruptly. “I do not require aid from a child. There is nothing wrong with me!” His cloak swirled around him as turned to go when Stitch darted in front of him.
“Are you…lost? Stitch was lost. I had no purpose. Then I found. Lilo. And now. Stitch has a family. It is little. And broken. But it is still good. Stitch has Lilo. And Stitch has Ohana. Also…Stitch is cute and fluffy!”
Loki was becoming more confused by the moment. He glanced at Lilo. “What is Ohana?”
She smiled. “Ohana means family. And family means no one gets left behind. Or forgotten. If you have to go, then that’s ok. But I’ll remember you. I remember everyone who leaves.”
This little girl and her alien gave Loki pause. Why should he care that she seemed sad? Or that her alien had seemed to find some kind of redemption with her? Loki told himself that he didn’t care. Yet some part of him resisted. He found himself kneeling down so they were eye to eye. “Who left you, Lilo?”
She reached into her backpack and showed him a crinkled picture. “My parents. It was raining and they went for a drive. They didn’t want to leave. No parent wantsto leave their kids. Sometimes things happen. Sometimes…people have to leave.”
Loki felt the familiar pain claw its way up his throat. Loss. Children separated from their parents. Screaming as child after child was torn from his arms.
No parent wants to leave their kids. He shook his head. “That’s right, Lilo. No parent ever wants to leave their children.”
Lilo gave him a very appraising look. “Then maybe…you can stay for a bit?”
Loki sighed and took a place at the table. “For a bit” he says.