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Sleep Tight

Chapter Text

Steve walked into the Stork Club, nervously fixing the lapels of his shirt. There was an up-beat song playing and the dance floor was occupied by a dozen of people. He headed straight for the bar, looking around anxiously for that familiar head of brown, short hair.

A tap on his shoulder alerted him to a presence behind him and the super soldier turned around quickly, a smile lighting up his face when he saw who was standing there. Peggy Carter smiled up at him, her ruby-red lips quirking upwards. She lifted up her arm and glanced at her wristwatch. "Eight o'clock, on the dot."

"I'm a man of my word," Steve replied, grabbing her hand and planting a light kiss on her knuckles. His smile widened when a light blush spread across her cheeks and before he had time to react, she was dragging him out onto the dance floor just as a slow song started playing. Grabbing Steve's hands, she placed them on her hips, letting hers rest around his neck. "Now, just mirror my feet movements."

"I'm going to step on your toes," the blonde said, chuckling as he struggled to move his feet to the music. Peggy smiled at his clumsiness, doing her best to avoid having her feet crushed by his. "You have two left feet, you know that?"

When Steve had managed to move his feet back and front without hurting Peggy or himself, the brunette moved closer, resting her head on his chest. She breathed a sigh of happiness, closing her eyes as she listened to his strong heart beat. "This is perfect," she breathed and Steve's smile, seemingly stuck on his face, turned soft as he placed a light kiss on the top of her head.

"It is, isn't it? Almost as if it were a dream."

Steve furrowed his eyebrows at the voice; he knew it from somewhere. Suddenly, Peggy's hands tightened around his neck and a gasp escaped her lips. "Peggy? Peggy what's wrong?" The blonde held her out at an arms length, a shiver running down his spine when he saw the horrified expression on her face. If that wasn't enough to alert him that something was clearly wrong, the thin line of blood running down the edge of her mouth was.

Peggy collapsed onto the floor, giving Steve a clear view of the strange knife sticking out of her back. "No..." he breathed, falling to his knees and grabbing Peggy's face in his hands. She coughed a few times before her breathing ceased. "NO," he shouted, feeling the streak of warm tears running down his cheeks.

"She was so young. Such a shame."

Steve's head snapped up, meeting a pair of green eyes. "You," the super soldier practically hissed, standing up from his kneeling position. A hideous smirk appeared on Loki's face as he glanced down at Peggy's cold body on the ground. Steve felt something hot flare up in his stomach, a white rage that burst from him in the form of a scream. The ever calm Captain America lashed out at Loki, his hands grabbing at nothing and the God of Lies evaporating into thin air.

The dark chuckle behind Steve gave him just enough time to spin around, a knife plunging through his heart. Loki's face was inches away from Steve's, his teeth bared in a murderous smirk. He twisted the knife harshly and Steve gasped.

…...

The first thing he was aware of was that he was sweating heavily. The other thing was that he didn't have a knife sticking out of his heart. Steve shot up in his bed, his breath coming out in shallow gasps. He fingers clutched the bedsheets and he shut his eyes tightly. It was just a dream.

The sound of heavy footsteps could be heard, alerting him of someone running down the hall, presumably towards his room. The door flew open, slamming into the wall as a disheveled Thor stood in the doorway. "Are you unharmed?" he asked, looking Steve over. The super soldier came to the conclusion he must have been shouting in his sleep. "I'm fine Thor. Just had a bad dream."

The demigod didn't look convinced as he took a step into the room, flicking on the lights. "But I heard your screams. I was sure that-"

"Nope. Just... a very disturbing, very realistic dream."

"Tell me. What has frightened you so?" Thor asked, concern evident in his voice. Steve sighed and ran a hand through his hair, damp from sweat, and motioned for the god to sit down. Thor grabbed the desk chair and sat down, the flimsy wood creaking under his weight.

"It was... Back before I was frozen, I knew this girl- err... lady, named Peggy. She was perfect, gorgeous and strong-willed. But then the plane crashed and I- I haven't seen her since."

"That was your dream?" Thor asked curiously. Steve shook his head. "I dreamt that I'd met her at this club- The Stork Club- and we were dancing. Then your brother showed up." Something in the god's expression changed but Steve continued. "He- he killed Peggy. And I- I tried to stop him but... I woke up when he stuck a knife into my chest."

Thor nodded, as if he were taking the dream in. "I too have dreams of my brother, but mostly they are memories. I have never had such horrendous visions of him."

Steve scoffed and flung the covers of him, rubbing his face tiredly. "Yeah, well, it won't do me any good to dwell on it. It was just a dream, right? I'm gonna hit the shower, so if you don't mind..." Steve gestured to the door with a nod of his head and Thor stood up quickly, giving the soldier a reassuring smile. The demigod closed the door behind him and Steve sighed. Even imprisoned in Asgard, Loki was still taunting him.

Chapter Text

"Hey Steve? You okay?"

The blonde answered with a quiet 'hmm?' and Tony scoffed. Steve had practically been sleeping with his face stuffed into his bowl of cereal. "I said, are you okay? You look like you might pass out any second."

"I'm fine," Steve said, yawning as he rested his elbows on the table, resting his head in the palm of his hands. "It's just that sleep hasn't exactly been peaceful for the last few nights. I've been getting... unwanted visitors."

"Rough," Tony replied, taking a sip of his coffee. The mansion was fairly quiet, given it was a Sunday morning. Natasha had been called in by Coulson barely and hour earlier and Bruce was stuck down at the SHIELD lab, working on something Tony didn't have the interest nor time to help him with. At least, that was what he'd told Fury. He just didn't really feel like working.

"Y'know, I think I'll have a cup of coffee," Steve mumbled after nearly slamming his head into the table when he'd dozed off for a few seconds. Tony nodded. "Jarvis, think you can whip up a cup for Sleeping Beauty here?"

"Coming right up Sir," the AI replied, the whirring sound of coffee beans being ground starting up. A few moments later, Steve stood up and grabbed his cup, taking a sip and frowning at the taste. "How do you drink this stuff?" the blonde asked, staring at the coffee as if he could somehow will it to taste better.

The engineer shrugged. "Fuel," he explained simply, taking another sip from his own cup. Steve shook his head and forced down another gulp, hoping it would help him stay awake. But knowing his metabolism, he had a pretty good feeling it wouldn't help.

"Hey guys," Clint said as he walked, or more precisely trudged, into the kitchen. Tony and Steve mumbled a greeting back and the archer headed straight for the fridge, rummaging around inside it.

"Peaceful morning, isn't it?" Tony commented to his almost-dead-to-the-world teammates. Clint groaned something in response.

"Sir, Director Fury is calling."

"You just had to say it, didn't you Stark?"

…...

"What is it Patchy?" Stark asked as he somewhat strutted into the room, Steve and Clint following closely behind.

Nick Fury disregarded his nickname and turned to the screens, enlarging one with a flick of his hand. "We've been getting some weird signals of energy readings since last night and we're sending you three to check it out." He glanced at the group for any signs of rejection before continuing. "You'll take the Quinjet and fly to Siberia. The coordinates have already been sent to the Iron Man suit so you can head off ASAP. Questions?"

"Sir, do we have any clue what this might be?"

"Not as of right now Captain, but we do know that this," he gestured to the numbers on the screen. "Looks an awful lot like the time Thor first visited New Mexico."

With that the trio left, splitting up when Tony went to put on his suit. Meanwhile, Steve's head was reeling. If this was anything like when Thor had arrived, then maybe it was another visit from Asgard. His stomach clenched slightly with anxiety as he thought of the green eyes and taunting smirk that had haunted him for the last nights but he shook it off. He would not let silly nightmares have any effect on him.

They got to the flight deck and got settled into their seats in the jet, Clint offering to pilot. He ignited the engine and after just moments of waiting, the familiar flash of red and gold shot past them and Clint smirked as the jet took off.

Iron Man took the lead, showing them where to go as he followed the instructions visible inside his helmet.

"So... what do you guys think this is?"

"Probably nothing," Clint answered Tony, looking to Steve for a different answer. "Yeah. I'm sure it's just a false alarm." I hope it's just a false alarm.

…...

"Stay on your toes guys. We're here."

They watched as Tony shut off his jets and plummeted to the ground, turning them back on just before he made contact with the earth. He landed gracefully, albeit with a thud and Clint scoffed. "Showoff."

About five minutes later the jet was on the ground and Clint and Steve stepped out. Tony was waiting for them impatiently. "There's nothing here you guys. Not an alien life-form, a robot, mark in the ground. Nothing. Nada."

Steve sighed, whether it was from relief or annoyance, he wasn't sure. "Great. You call Fury on the way back." Tony groaned at Clint. "Fine. But you pay for lunch later."

"Deal... If you can beat us home."

"Just try to keep up."

…...

"Hawkeye. I need a little back up here," Tony said through his com, annoyance building up in him when he received no answer. "Widow? Cap? Hulk?"

A hit in the back diverted his attention from trying to reach his teammates and he swiveled around as fast as the suit allowed him. There was nothing behind him except an eerie darkness. "You guys?" he tried again, with no luck. He heard the swish of something behind him and he lifted his hands, repulsors ready to shoot. Another sound coming from behind him made him turn around and he suddenly became aware of just how dark it was. Everything looked foggy but the darkness made the tendrils of fog look pitch black.

The unknown foe shot at him again, this time hitting the side of the helmet, his head whipping around.

"Tony?"

Tony brightened up at hearing Clint's voice, blasting up and out of the fog to locate him. He finally spotted a silhouette of someone and headed towards it as fast as he could. He landed a few feet away and walked towards it, stopping short when he saw who it was. Clint Barton was laying on the ground, one of his own arrows, an explosive one he noticed, stuck into the ground next to him. He was lying on his side, clutching his face. "Clint?"

The archer looked up at the sound of his name and Tony took an involuntary step back. The left side of Hawkeye's face was severely burnt, droplets of blood falling onto the pavement. Tony suddenly heard another voice call out his name but this time it was female. He didn't need to look to find the owner of the voice though. As he started to move, the fog started to dissipate. Lying only a few feet away was Natasha, looking bruised, bloodied and battered, her eyes closed and her breathing shallow.

As the rest of the fog evaporated, one by one he saw his teammates, all in some sort of distress. Steve had a bullet hole in his right shoulder and it was bleeding severely. Banner was unconscious, a nasty looking gash on his forehead. Even Thor had been overpowered by a mere knife to the stomach. As the fog disappeared completely, Tony looked around. He was standing in the middle of a circle, made up by his injured teammates. He heard someone cackle and raised his hands again, ready to blast whatever came near him.

A dark shadow appeared suddenly a few feet behind Tasha and Tony growled, getting ready to fire. The shadow took a step closer and he let off the shot. Nothing happened. The shadow laughed again, a sound that chilled Tony down to his core, and continued to make his way into the circle. It was holding someone and as it neared, he saw that it was Pepper. She slumped to the ground unconscious and Tony let out a shout of anguish. The man of iron tried frantically to move now, but to no prevail. It was as if his suit had shut down, with him trapped inside.

"Jarvis?" he tried desperately, but his AI seemed to be offline along with everything else. He heard a groan from one of his teammates and his stomach twisted with the need to help them. The shadow was finally lifted off the person walking up to him and anger filled him up when he saw his enemy. "What do you want?" he growled and the man, or more accurately god, chuckled. "It's simple really."

Loki was now standing right in front of Tony, his green eyes glinting with malice. "The complete and utter destruction of the Avengers."

Lifting his arms, the god of mischief grabbed onto Iron Man's helmet and in one quick movement, turned it in a 180 circle with a sickening crack.

…...

Tony gasped as he woke up, frantically placing his hands on his neck to see if everything was alright. When he was sure that his head was in fact, still intact, he let out a sigh of relief. That dream had been very vivid. Too vivid. "Jarvis, lights."

The room filled with the glow from the lamp on his bedside table and Tony brushed a lock of sweaty hair from his eyes. "Check for any unwanted presence in the mansion."

"Scanning."

The brunette waited anxiously while the computer scanned, finally informing him that there were no intruders. Working on getting his breathing under control, he finally stood up and left his room.

He found himself wandering into the kitchen, opening up the fridge and grabbing a can of beer. He sat down at the kitchen table, popping the can open and taking a large swig.

"Couldn't sleep?"

Tony choked on his beer, placing the can down and sputtering as he tried to swallow. After a short coughing fit, he finally cleared his throat. "Jesus Steve. If you want me to have a heart attack, it would be easier to just rip out the arc reactor."

"Sorry," Steve apologized sheepishly, taking the seat across from the brunette. "But to answer your question, I had a bit of a... rude awakening."

The soldier nodded, crossing his arms on the table. "Same here. I keeping having this reoccurring nightmare. I mean, it changes somehow every time but it's always the same- I wake up to my death."

"How long has this been happening now?"

"About a week and a half."

"Sheesh. No wonder you looked like a zombie."

Steve glared at him but quickly gave it up, not having the energy to uphold even the slightest look. "What about you?"

Tony sighed. "My first dream so far. It was so real, I felt as if he was actually there, like he was actually back."

"Wait, who's he?"

"Loki."

Steve sat up straighter in his seat, staring into Tony's brown eyes. "You mean Loki was in your dream?"

"Yeah, so what?" Tony asked, taking another swig of his beer.

"He's also the one who's been killing me off in every single one of my dreams."

"Damn. That guy must've really gotten to us," the brunette said as he crushed the now empty beer can with his hand, throwing it into the sink. "I don't know. There's something fishy about this," Steve said, running a hand through his already disheveled hair. "Sure thing Capsicle. Have fun fishing. I'm gonna try to get some shut eye before sunrise." With that Tony left the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of something Steve didn't recognize from the cabinets on the way out.

The super soldier sighed in irritation, crossing his arms on the table and letting his head rest on them. He could feel his eyes droop and he hoped that he could maybe sleep for just a few hours without nightmares. Boy was he wrong

Chapter Text

His hand glowed for a fraction of second before the ball of energy burst and vanished. He growled as he made another futile attempt. Nothing. His annoyed sigh rang throughout the cave, echoing of the damp stone walls. His chains jingled as he fixed his position on the hard ground, crossing his legs. Folding his hands in his lap, he closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath.

His concentration focused, he felt his mind slowly leave his body. Slowly but surely, the part of him that wasn't retained in that wretched cave, traveled down to Midgard.

As he reached his destination, he loomed outside of the building before entering, his invisible form walking quietly down the hall. As he passed one room after another, he finally stopped at his desired location. Stepping through the door, he watched the still-menacing form of Natasha Romanoff sleeping. A smirk on his face, he entered her subconsciousness.

He spotted her almost instantly. Wearing her trademark catsuit, she wasn't hard to spot. That, and the fact that she was the only other person here made finding her quite simple.

A rock came into the path of his moving feet and when it made contact with the toe of his boot, it rolled across the pavement, grabbing the assassin's attention. She swiveled around, drawing her gun and pointing it straight at his face. He grinned back at her.

As she got a good look at his face, her grip on the gun faltered slightly. "You," she whispered, her finger slightly pressing the trigger, poised to pull it and shoot.

Loki tsk'ed at her and slowed his steps, coming to a stop a couple of feet away. "I should have put a bullet through your skull when I had the chance," Natasha growled at him before pulling the trigger, the bullet flying towards Loki. With the slight wave of his hand, the bullet changed it's course, hitting a nearby mailbox instead.

"You can't really hope to defeat me with that puny a weapon?"

"Maybe I won't take you down but I'm sure as hell gonna die trying," she threatened in growl, her gun still raised. Multiple shots went off, all of them either stopping on the way to it's target and falling to the ground with a klink, or flying off on a whole other route. Either way, none of the bullets fired even grazed the God of Mischief.

Just as she was about to fire off another round of shots, an arrow flew from behind her and past her ear, landing right in front of her. She knew the design of the arrow immediately, relief bubbling up in her.

She turned around, spotting Hawkeye perched on a building behind her. She watched as he drew another arrow and she turned back to Loki, putting on a smirk of your own. "Two against one now. It hardly seems fair."

Loki tilted his head, a somewhat innocent expression on his face. "It really doesn't."

She sensed the arrow coming before she felt it make contact, her brain taking a minute to register the pain of it stuck in her calf. She let out a shout of pain, whipping her head around to look at the damage. One of Hawkeye's steel-tipped arrows protruded from her calf, the wound already bleeding profusely. Natasha cursed quietly, quickly coming to the conclusion that there was no way she was going to pull that arrow out without tearing out a good piece of meat with it.

Thinking on her feet, she snapped most of the arrow of, leaving only a three inch stick standing out of her leg. She heard the sound of another oncoming arrow and rolled out of the way, her leg screaming in protest at the abuse. The arrow that landed barely a feet away from her stuck to the ground and seconds later, exploded. Her face was burning as she crawled away from the raining debris, curling up into a ball in an alley. Her head felt way too light, the streak of blood on the ground a clue as to why.

She heard footsteps near and stood up. Her whole right side felt as if it were still on fire and her leg stung with every breath she took. But still, she stood. She noticed two silhouettes appear at the end of the alley, one wearing that ridiculous, horned head wear. Hawkeye stepped forward and she raised her hands, her gun lost somewhere during the explosion. Her body screamed at her as she dodged arrow after arrow until finally, Clint was standing in front of her, grabbing one of her wrists. After a moment of looking into his face, she swept his legs from under him, causing him to fall down and drag her with him.

He quickly managed to flip them over, holding her legs down with his own, using one hand to pin her arms over her head. With his one free hand, he pulled an arrow from his sheath, flipping it so the sharp end pointed at her face. His hands hovered over her face and then her stomach before it sliced across her abdomen. She cried out in response, thrashing violently in response. Another cut was made down her forearm, her waist was decorated with a stab wound and finally he dragged the arrow tip slowly but surely down her burnt cheek.

She could feel her power draining as blackness loomed at the edge of her vision. Trying her best to stay conscious, she made eye contact with Clint. "Please," she whimpered quietly, but her partner's face remained cold. The only difference between him now and back at the helicarrier over a month ago were his eyes. Whereas they had been a cold shade of blue the last time he'd unwillingly fought her, this time they were his original shade of beautiful blue. He wasn't being mind controlled by Loki. Not this time.

"Do you know what is the worst but at the same time the best thing about you mortals?"

Natasha drew in a shaky breath as the arrow tip traced a deep line down her stomach. "They are so easily persuaded." Loki was now standing behind Clint, looming over them.

"Finish her."

Natasha called out her partner's name as he lifted the arrow high up into the air before plunging it straight into the side of her neck.

…...

As the dream ended abruptly, Loki found himself back in his body. A small smile was stuck on his face, the sound of the master assassin begging her own partner for mercy still ringing in his ears. He might be stuck on Asgard but that didn't stop him from being able to torture the Avengers, whether he did it physically, or mentally.

…...

"Hey Tasha, breakfast is-"

Clint stood in the door to her bedroom, the barrel of a gun pressed against his forehead. "Uhm..."

After a second of consideration, Natasha lowered the gun and sighed. "Sorry. I've just been a bit edgy lately."

The archer nodded and slung a hand over her shoulders in a friendly fashion. "I get where you're coming from. Fury's been reporting all sort's of disturbances all around the globe, but whenever we show up, there's nothing there. It actually starting to creep me out. Anyway, it's nothing a batch of waffles can't fix. Come on." He started dragging the redhead down the hall, coming to a stop in the kitchen. The whole team was assembled around the kitchen table, each waiting for their food. Steve stood at the counter, waiting patiently for the waffle iron to heat up.

"Come on Steve, just put them on already. I'm starving."

The super soldier turned to glare at Tony, pointing at him with the wooden spoon in his hand. The engineer lifted his hands in mock surrender, a stupid grin on his face. Steve turned back to the waffle iron, finally pouring the first doze of dough onto the hot metal. Mere minutes later, he placed a stack of waffles on the table, each team member digging into the stack eagerly. "This is marvelous," Thor said around a large piece of a chewed waffle and Clint grinned.

After three more stacks of waffles had been placed on the table and placed on plates just as quickly, everyone seemed to be full, thanking Steve for the breakfast. The soldier smiled, claiming it was nothing. It wasn't until half of the team had left that Clint noticed Natasha's plate being empty. "You didn't eat?"

"Wasn't hungry," came the curt reply. The archer frowned. "Tasha, what's wrong?"

"It's nothing. Just leave it," she answered, her tone slightly harsher than she meant it to be. Pushing her chair back, she stood up. "Thanks for breakfast Steve."

Turning around, she headed down the hall. A warm hand on her wrist stopped her. Her mind immediately flashed back to her dream earlier and she twisted her arm, hearing the slight crack as Clint's hand bent with hers.

"Damn it Natasha." Clint pulled back his arm, clutching it to his chest with a sour expression on his face.

"Sorry," she mumbled, rubbing her wrist. "Just tell me what's bothering you?"

She sighed. "It's nothing really. Just a bad dream. I'm overreacting," she answered, hoping the archer would drop the subject.

"Wait, wait, wait. A bad dream?"

Natasha turned sharply towards Tony, eyebrows furrowed. "Yeah."

"Strange..."

"What is?" Clint piped in, watching as the other man sat joined them where they stood in the hallway, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "What about you Barton? Any weird dreams as of lately?"

"Nothing out of the ordinary, no. What's this about Tony?"

"It's just... it's probably nothing but I find it strange that all three of us- us being me, you and Steve, have been having night-terrors at the same time. Now-and I'm taking a wild guess here- was there perhaps an evil demigod in your dream, say, the brother of the one who is lounging on the couch."

Natasha looked at Thor who was sprawled lazily across the living room couch, trying to work the TV remote.

"How did you know that?" The redhead shot Tony an accusing look.

"Call it instinct," Tony said smugly before gesturing for them to move closer. "You see, Rock of Ages has also been making unwanted appearances in mine and Steve's dreams. Now call me crazy-"

"We already do."

"-but I think this isn't just a coincidence," he continued, ignoring Clint's attempts at humor. "But how could he be doing that?" Natasha wondered, thinking back to Loki's seemingly real-at-the-time form, standing over her as Clint lifted the arrow over his head-

"Well, the guy is supposed to be locked up in Asgard or whatever planet they dumped him on," Tony offered, cutting off the redhead's train of thought. The three of them simultaneously turned their heads towards the blonde god who was tapping the remote lightly against the coffee table, staring quiet angrily at it. "I don't think we should bother him."

Two pair of eyes turned to Natasha, who continued to look at Thor. "He's been feeling awful about the Loki situation for the last month. We can't make him feel worse. Not until we're sure that this something to be worried about or just a freaky coincidence."

Stark nodded but Clint frowned. He finally conceded, claiming gruffly that if that 'horned-helmet-wearing-weirdo' popped up in his dreams, they were taking the first rainbow bridge to Asgard and kicking his ass. Again.

Chapter Text

Tony backed away as quickly as he could, his back finally hitting the hard, cold wall. The god was nowhere to be seen and the mechanic took a deep breath. Just as he was about to make a run for the door, Loki appeared in front of him. His hands snaked around the smaller man's neck and raised him off the ground, Tony's hands frantically trying to loosen the choking grip. Stepping over to the window, the god of mischief stared down at the long fall from the top floor of Stark Tower, before hurling the man out the window. Tony felt shards of glass cut into his skin but those were the least of his problems. He was plummeting towards the ground but this time, his wrists were completely bare. No suit to save him now. He clenched his eyes shut as his face made contact with the hard concrete.

Shooting up from his lying position, Tony growled. Angrily throwing the covers of him, he stomped down to the lab. “Jarvis, turn on the lights please. And get me an espresso. Actually, make it a double. And turn on some music, would'ya?”

“Of course sir.”
….....

“What's that?”

Tony turned his head to look at Bruce. “Hey, you're back.”

Bruce smiled and stepped closer to the worktable. When he noticed what looked like small paddle electrodes he moved closer. “What are you working on?” he asked, suspicion leaking into his voice. The engineer smiled up at him and flipped a switch on the machine. It whirred to life, lights turning on in various places. The quiet hum of electricity could be heard and Bruce moved in to inspect the device. “Unless you're planning on switching your current career for that of a doctor's, I don't see why you'd need that.”

Tony rolled his eyes and shut the machine back off. “This,” he gestured to the machine, “is going to help me sleep.”

“How exactly?” the other man asked, one eyebrow raised.

“I've been having nightmares for the last couple of days and I'm sick of it.” Tony started to pack the machine up, latching extra components onto the larger box. “So I decided-” he lifted the large box into his arms with a grunt. “That every time my heart starts racing, this-” he hoisted up the machine with a huff and then started walking towards the elevator. “Should wake me up with a light electric shock.”

“How light?” Bruce asked with uncertainty, falling into step with Tony. When they got to the elevator, Tony struggled with the machine as he attempted to push the elevator button and balance the device in his hands. Bruce rolled his eyes and pushed it for him and the pair stepped in. “You worry too much Banner. Do you really think I'm stupid enough to electrocute myself? Wait, don't answer that!” he cut in when the other man opened his mouth. “The point is that with this thing, I should be able to wake up before Loki gets a chance to throw me out a window.”

“Wait, Loki?”

“It's a long story. Go ask Clint.”

….......

It was chilly outside. Bruce shivered and went to grab at the lapels of his jacket, only then realizing that he wasn't wearing one. Actually, he wasn't wearing anything. On instinct, he moved his hands to cover his private parts but after a look around, figured it was pointless. There was no one here

Standing up carefully, he squinted his eyes as he tried to see through the heavy fall of snow. It looked like he was still in New York.

Shuffling awkwardly, he tried to remember what had happened. Obviously, the 'other guy' had taken over but what had happened during that he had no idea. Taking a careful step, avoiding anything that might hurt his bare toes, he started trudging down the street. Maybe Stark Tower wasn't too far away. As he continued to walk, a strange smell hit him. It was a smell he knew well; the smell of fire and smoke. Just seconds after the stench hit him, he saw the dancing flames. A nearby building was in flames but thankfully there didn't seem to be any people inside.

Risking a closer inspection, he took a few steps closer to the building. As he came closer, he realized something was wrong. It didn't just look like the building had burst into flames, it looked like it had been hit by a wrecking ball. A wrecking ball with fists.

As soon as he recognized the telltale signs of a Hulk attack, he backed away from the building. His feet nudged against something soft and when he turned his head he spotted a gray blanket lying on the snow-covered concrete. As he bent down to pull it up, his fingers brushed against the ground. When he stood back up, he glanced at his fingers and realized in horror that it wasn't snow on the ground. It was ash.

In the blink of an eye, the cloud of what he now knew wasn't snow disappeared. What he saw stole his breath. There were bodies scattered everywhere, buildings surrounding the area and farther either in bright flames or completely demolished. “What wonderful handiwork. I must say, I couldn't have done a better job myself.”

Bruce swiveled around, shaking violently. He pulled the blanket he was holding over himself but his hands froze when he saw the person in front of him. Loki was examining his fingernails with disinterest, sparing a fleeting glance at the physicist. “What have you done?” Bruce asked, his voice no more than a quiet whisper. The god of mischief heard him perfectly though, judging from his deep chuckle. “Oh, this wasn't my doing. No, this is all your work, doctor.”

As Bruce glanced once more at the surrounding destruction, he felt that familiar snap of control inside him. He charged at the god but as he neared his target, everything went dark. The beast kept charging though, tearing at everything it could get his hands on, in hope of finding the demigod. Suddenly, the street lights turned on and the 'other guy' turned around. His harsh, deep breathing was the only sound as he looked at the now-scarlet street. Lying in semi-heaps on the ground were his-Bruce's teammates... or what was left of them...

He noticed the god of lies standing a few feet away, his ever present grin on his face. “Pity. I would have preferred to eliminate them myself.”

Loki shrugged and then lifted his staff. With a loud crack, a ray of blue shot out from the staff and hit the building behind him. The Hulk actually refrained from laughing, was he planning to harm him with a measly building? He watched as the building crumpled down but seconds before it collapsed, Banner could feel himself turning back into his normal form. His scream drowned in the racket of the tumbling concrete.

…......

Tony woke up with a start. Ripping the small paddle electrodes off his arm, he shook off the small electric current that had just run through him. Okay, so maybe not the most comfortable wake up call but at least he'd escaped from the dream before Loki had been able to once again kill him off. Stupid son of a bitch.

Running his hands over his face, Tony flipped off his duvet and stepped into the bathroom. Splashing a good doze of cold water onto his face, he took a deep breath. Toweling off the water, he stretched out his arms and glanced in the mirror. Something was off. His arms fell limply back to his side as he stared at the small cut on his cheek. It was barely a graze but Tony still felt his stomach drop.

Right before his homemade alarm clock had shocked him, a knife had been flung at him. Just as it had grazed his cheek, his heartbeat had sped up and he'd woken up. Now, if he wasn't mistaken, and he rarely was, this cut was exactly where the blade had touched his skin.

“Jarvis. Wake everyone up. We have a situation here.”

…...

“So, you woke us up, because you got a small cut on your cheek?” Natasha said with annoyance, her arms crossed as she leaned against the wall. Clint was slumped on a kitchen chair, staring at Tony with a murderous expression. Poor guy probably needed his beauty sleep. Banner, he noticed, was looking quite disheveled as in more-than-was-usual-despite-it-being-four-in-the-morning-disheveled. “Look,” he began, deciding to start before everyone feel asleep on the spot. “Me, Tasha, Steve and I'm guessing Banner too, have been having... unpleasant dreams lately, to say the least.”

At this, Bruce perked up and Natasha's expression softened slightly. Clint still looked like he was going to pass out. “What do you mean by 'unpleasant'?” Thor asked from his place next to Barton. Steve sighed and stepped closer to the group, crossing his arms over his T-shirt- it was sporting a large American flag and had been a gift from Tony who hadn't actually thought he'd wear it. “Thor, is there any way of... of penetrating other people's dreams.”

Thor's eyebrows furrowed. “I do not think so... Why do you ask?”

“Because your brother has been showing up in our dreams and it's long passed the time where this could be considered a coincidence.” Steve was starting to use his leader-of-the-group voice, making his way to the front of the group, staring at Thor.

The god of thunder froze at the mention of Loki, his whole body tensing. “My brother is being held captive in Asgard,” he said angrily and every member of the team raised their hands in defense. “Easy there big guy,” Tony cut in as he watched Thor clench his fists tightly. “Look,” he started, eyeing Mjolnir carefully where it sat on the living room floor. “This,” he gestured to the still bleeding cut on his cheek,” was caused by your brother.”

Thor opened his mouth to object but once again, Tony cut in. “I don't know how so don't ask me. All I know is that Loki might possibly be able to physically hurt us by hurting us in our dreams.”

The god stared blankly at the group for a few moments. Clint shifted awkwardly.

Finally, Thor swiftly turned around and started walking towards the door. “Thor!” Steve shouted after him and the god stopped. “Where are you going?”

“If you believe that Loki has the power to harm you even from the confines of another realm, then I must go see him.”

“Aren't you gonna change first?” Clint quipped and Thor looked down at his red pajama pants. He sighed. “Very well. Wait here and I will return to brief you on the matter.”

…...

After a few minutes, the team was growing restless, with the exception of Clint who had fallen asleep with his head resting on the counter top. Just as Tony was about to storm into Thor's room and drag him back into the kitchen, the aforementioned god appeared in the doorway. He was clad in full armour and grabbed Mjolnir on his way to the kitchen. The team minus Clint huddled around Thor, who took a deep breath.

“My brother is being held at the far edge of Asgard. If I leave now, I should be able to get to him in a matter of three days.”

“Let me come with-”

“I go unaccompanied. Bringing someone with me might upset Loki.”

Steve crossed his arms and closed his mouth while Tony huffed. “Right. Because the feelings of the psychopath that tried to kill us, and is still trying, is all that matters.”

“I go unaccompanied,” Thor repeated, his voice now stern. Tony frowned but Steve simply pushed him away. He placed a hand on the god's shoulder. “Be careful.”

Thor nodded. “The same goes for you my friends.”

With that, he left. The team stood still for a couple of minutes before finally drifting off to their own bedrooms. Clint was left alone in the kitchen, sleeping peacefully on the counter.

…...

Clint cringed as he received yet another blow. His face felt numb and his throat felt raw and he could hear someone shouting. Struggling to keep his eyes open, he finally saw the face of his attacker. As soon as he recognized the face, the shouts became more clear. “Dad! Stop it! Stop it!” It was his own voice. Suddenly, the blows stopped coming. He looked up and found himself sitting in the middle of the street.

Standing up, he wiped his face with the back of his hand to find that there was no blood. Shrugging it off and shivering at the cold, he started walking. The atmosphere felt eerie and everything felt... wrong.

Out of nowhere, the stench of fire hit him. The air quickly filled with thick smoke and he coughed as he made his way forward. As suddenly as it had appeared, the smoke vanished. Left was a car, mangled beyond belief. Having been seemingly tossed out of the vehicle were his parents, lying on the ground.

“What are you afraid of?”

Clint swiveled around, feeling slightly nauseous. The sound of hisses could be heard all around him and the smoke from before was re-appearing all around him, creeping closer, reaching out it's dark tentacles. The archer reached over his shoulder out of instinct to find that his quiver wasn't strapped onto his back. He looked around frantically for anything he could use as a weapon against this unseen force, finally grabbing a large piece of glass from the car wreck. The edges of it cut into his hands but he felt numb to the pain as he looked around.

“Are you afraid of dying?”

He turned around to face the direction of the voice, but it was hard to tell where it had come from due to the fact that the hissing seemed to grow louder by the second.

“That your worthless human life will come to an abrupt end.”

Again he swiveled around, looking for the source of the voice. His eyes were starting to water from the thick smoke and his throat and lungs stung with every breath. “Show yourself,” he shouted into the smoke. After a moment of waiting, he could hear laughter. It was followed by a knife heading straight for him. His instincts kicked in and he dropped onto the ground. Through his watery eyes, he saw that he'd dropped straight down next to the corpse of his father.

Clint scrambled back onto his feet with slight panic, snapping his head back and forth, watching for more attacks. In his peripheral vision, he spotted a silhouette. Moving quickly, he was able to dodge the knife that was flung at him. The smoke grew thinner and thinner until finally he could see Loki standing a few feet away. For every step he took closer to the archer, Clint took one back. Soon, the god of mischief had reached the car wreck and was standing over the body of Clint's mother.

He nudged it with his toe, looking at it with disinterest. Clint's grip on the glass shard tightened to the point that it was cutting deeply into his skin. Loki turned his head around briefly and Clint charged. He sprinted over to the god, ramming the shard into the side of his chest. Loki let out a shout and as the archer backed away, the god keeled over. Clint turned around and ran.

He looked over his shoulder and saw the god still lying on the ground. He turned at the next corner and came to an abrupt halt as Loki appeared right in front of him. His breath caught in his throat as something sharp was shoved into his stomach. He stumbled back a few steps, looking down to see the large glass shard protruding from his stomach. The god of mischief continued advancing, a sinister smirk on his face. “What are you afraid of?”

…...

“For the love of god Clint, wake up!”

Clint woke up gasping for air and his hands quickly moved down to his stomach. A pair of smaller hands grabbed his on the way and he moved his eyes to see Natasha. Shifting his vision slightly, he saw that Steve was carrying him and Tony was running right behind him. They were moving quickly down the hall, the soldier's footsteps echoing of the walls, a worried expression on his face. “Just stay with me Clint,” Natasha said, gripping his hands tightly. “Just stay with me.”

Chapter Text

“Why wasn't anyone watching him?” Natasha growled as they took turn after turn, quickly making their way to the medical bay. Their footsteps echoed off the walls, filling up the otherwise silent space. “My bad! I wasn't aware that a grown man needed constant care,” Tony snapped back, sarcasm lacing his every word. “Stop it, both of you!” Steve ordered, his eyes glancing down to the injured teammate in his arms. After one more turn, they finally saw Bruce waiting in a doorway, his eyes wide once he saw them. “In here!” Banner guided them into the medical room and the group of people bustled into the room. Steve placed Clint carefully onto the bed and the unconscious archer groaned, his eyes squeezing shut at the pain.

“Everyone step back,” Bruce said calmly, already starting to closely examine the wound. The three other people in the room obeyed, taking a few steps back and waiting anxiously. Banner seemed to fall into an almost trance like mood as he started to connect Clint to all types of machines, inserting needles into his wrists as he worked on putting pressure on the wound, all the while muttering things under his breath. He had placed a bundled up towel onto the gash in the archer's side, pressing it down to slow the bleeding. “Hold this,” he commanded to Tony and the engineer quickly obliged, replacing Bruce's hands with his own on top of the towel. The white cotton was already turning scarlet, soaking up the blood. A few seconds passed and then Bruce was ushering Tony away, once more pressing his hands against the wound.

“He's loosing a lot of blood,” he explained, one hand holding the towel while the other started to rummage in a nearby drawer. “I'll go find some blood for a transfusion,” Natasha spoke up quickly. “Don't you need to know his-”

“I know,” she cut him off before leaving the room. “Someone get me scissors.” Steve jumped, nervously locating a pair of scissors before handing them over to Bruce. The latter started to cut into Clint's shirt, tearing the fabric away from the wound. He was glad to see that it didn't look half as bad as it was bleeding. “He isn't coughing up blood so I'm going to be optimistic and say the attack missed his vital organs.”

Tony and Steve stood almost idly by as Banner started to clean the wound, occasionally drawing a hiss from Clint. It was obvious that they wanted to assist but sadly, their knowledge in the medical area was... limited, to say the least. So they handed the doctor whatever he asked for, at the ready to do whatever it took to help. Natasha soon returned with a bag of blood, hanging it up on a pole next to the IV liquid. Bruce nodded at her, once more commanding Tony to put pressure on the wound as he worked on getting the transfusion ready.

A short while later, Banner was sterilizing the wound, asking someone to locate a needle for him. His voice was calm, almost eerily so, while the others looked all types of distressed. Steve looked pretty much ready to faint on the spot or throw up. Or both. Natasha looked worried, her hands trembling; it was barely noticeable but still there. If anyone would ask her about it later, she deny it. Tony was shuffling his feet, looking unlike himself as he almost awkwardly tried to stay out of the way.

Another few minutes passed and Bruce was anesthetizing the skin around the wound, almost ready to start stitching it up. He looked around the group of three. “If anyone is uncomfortable, they can leave-” Steve immediately headed for the door, politely nodding at Bruce before disappearing. Tony soon followed. Natasha stayed. Banner nodded and gestured with his head towards the chair on the other side of the bed. The redhead moved to sit down, eyes locked on Clint's hand, resting limp by his sides. She wanted to reach out and hold her partner's hand but she refrained from doing so, twining her own hands together in her lap, her face blank as she watched Bruce slide the needle into the archer's skin. Slowly but surely, the black thread started to pull the gash closed. All the while, Barton's eyes were squeezed shut as he heard the faint beeping sound getting farther and farther away.

…...

“How's he doing?” Bruce was met with Steve as soon as he opened the door, the blue eyes filled with sadness and worry. “He'll recover just fine. He got lucky. Very lucky.”

Closing the door quietly, he started walking down the hallway alongside the blonde. “Where's Tony?” the shorter of the two asked, pulling off his glasses and hanging them on his shirt.

“In his lab,” the soldier answered like it was obvious and knowing the self proclaimed genius, it kind of was. “I still can't believe it,” Steve breathed, rubbing his face tiredly. “Should this even be possible? Harming and even killing people through their dreams?” Bruce sighed, turning down the hall as they seemed to be heading towards the living room. “Since my... incident, I've refrained from being too skeptic of things. We have no idea what someone with powers of such a capacity if capable of. I mean, you've seen Thor. Guy controls lighting.”

They arrived in the kitchen, the place where they'd found Clint. Steve had been looking for a snack, obviously unable to sleep, and had instead found his teammate gasping on the floor, bloody hands clutching his stomach. The blonde shook his head, trying to dispel those thoughts. The archer was fine, no need to dwell on it. Bruce had caught how his friend's face had fallen, hesitantly placing a hand on his upper arm. “Be glad you found him. A few more minutes and he might have died from blood loss.”

Steve smiled gratefully at the other man, taking in his face. He looked tired, with dark circles under his bloodshot eyes. They'd been partially hidden by the glasses before but now the small man looked worse for wear. The blonde was pretty sure he looked just as bad as Bruce, not having slept for over twenty four hours now. The soldier still needed less sleep then his fellow, non-medically enhanced teammates, so he could only imagine how much worse they were feeling. “So what's the plan then? Not sleeping until Thor returns. Like he said, it might take days, possibly weeks,” Steve remarked as they sat down on the TV couch. Oh, how he wished he could just lie down and rest for a short while.

Bruce frowned slightly, eyebrows furrowing in thought. Tony's small device he had been so skeptical about came to mind and he nodded to himself. It just might be crazy enough to work. “I think Tony might be able to help with that.”

…...

The first thing Clint was aware of as he slipped back into a conscious state, was that his stomach hurt like hell. A small groan escaped his mouth as he felt his head pound. His mouth was dry and his eyelids felt heavy, his whole body tired and numb. Not that unfamiliar of a feeling, to be honest. Eyes still closed, he struggled to feel his hand before he tried moving it. His fingers finally twitched and he felt a small sense of success. After wiggling all of his fingers on one hand, he tried the other and it obeyed pretty easily. He would have grinned if his face hadn't felt so numb. Finally managing to move his whole hand, he started to lift it, curious to run his fingers over the part of his stomach that felt on fire.

His hand lifted up slowly and he started to move it but a smaller, softer hand enveloped his, bringing it back down to his side. His eyebrows twitched; they were going to furrow in confusion but his muscles wouldn't comply. His hand was still being held by two other and he started to crack his eyes open. They felt so heavy but one eye finally managed to open, then the other but both closed again at the blinding light. After blinking them rapidly for a short while, they finally got used to the brightness. He managed to turn his head, glad to see a familiar face.

“Nat?” His voice was raspy, barely over a whisper. Natasha's lips quirked slightly upwards and she reached over for a glass of water. Clint grabbed it gratefully, quickly draining the glass. The cold water felt great against his dry throat and he handed back the empty glass. Clearing his throat, he attempted to speak again. “Why am I-”

“In the medical bay? One word; Loki.”

It all came rushing back to him; getting stabbed in the dream before waking up to find that he'd actually been impaled. “That's it, this time, I'm really going to kill him, immortal or not.”

A knock on the door ripped him from murderous thoughts and he turned his head to see Steve hesitantly poking his head in. “Mind if we join you?” Clint shook his head -or did the equivalent of shaking his head since his horizontal position made movement very hard- and the blonde entered along with the rest of his teammates, minus the thunder god. Tony was smirking (the bastard) and the archer's eyes narrowed. “Stop it with the grinning, Stark,” Natasha commanded in exasperation before Clint could growl out a threat and the man's smirk toned down into a small quirk of the lips. Barton still wanted to punch him in the face.

“How are you feeling?” Rogers asked as he dragged another chair up next to the one Natasha was sitting on, ever the polite one. Clint gave a very vague shrug, blinking slowly. “Angry.” A snort from the other end of the room drew their attention and they all glared at the billionaire that had resumed his smirking. “Mind letting us in on the joke because I'm not seeing the punchline here,” the archer spoke through gritted teeth.

Tony uncrossed his arms and leaned against the wall. “I'm just amused at the guy's -or god's- stubbornness. I mean, he's hauled off to jail in rainbow land and he's still out to get us. You gotta admire his persistence.” Natasha cocked an eyebrow and Stark just waved them off, turning his attention elsewhere. “Since you're already speaking-” a pointed stare was delivered in the billionaire's direction. Tony ignored it. “Why don't you share our plan with the agents,” Steve suggested and Banner nodded from where he was checking on Barton's IV fluids.

“First of all, my machine, my plan-”

“Just get on with it, Stark,” the redhead sighed. Tony rolled his eyes slightly, grabbing a chair from the wall and with the back facing the group of people, straddled it as his arms crossed on the back. “So impatient. Fine. Alright, the problem is that we can't sleep without the threat of impending doom hanging over our heads, right?”

“We already know that. Just get to the good part,” Clint spoke up, halting in his attempts to sit up as he almost spat out the words in irritation. His face was scrunched up in concentration and most likely pain, one hand still tightly squeezing Natasha's.

“You guys are really touchy.” That earned him hard glares from the three people closest to the hospital bed, the doctor simply distancing himself with his work, a small smile playing on his lips. “Okay, so no sleep equals pissed off Avengers. Example A,” he gestured to his teammates. They still didn't look amused. Tony blamed it on their lack of humor. Really, they needed to learn to enjoy life, even though a crazy, magical demi-god wanted them dead. “Now maybe, we can't get a full nights sleep with Gloomy Gus impaling people left and right but if we can wake up before he slits our throats, then we might just get about an hour of sleep in here and there. Because you guys kind of scare me when you haven't slept.”

“Sounds nice. Too bad Loki seems to be the one in charge of the dreams,” Natasha was the first to speak, interest visible in her features but her voice sounding very skeptical. The plan sounded alright, except for the minor detail of the dreams being way too vivid to even realize they weren't real. The engineer was smirking again and before the assassins could push him for more information, he stood up and walked out of the room. “Is he serious?” Clint asked in confusion at the abrupt leave and Steve smiled, almost looking apologetic. “Just wait.”

Barely a minute passed and Tony returned, a box under his arm. “One of your inventions?” Natasha guessed and Stark nodded as he placed the cardboard box on the chair he'd been sitting on prior. After pushing the chair closer to the hospital bed, causing a screeching sound to reverberate around the room, much to everyone's disdain (and Tony's amusement), he pulled up the paddle electrodes. “I don't know if you realized, Stark, but I got stabbed in the stomach. My heart isn't failing.” The billionaire rolled his eyes at the archer, moving around the hospital bed. Bruce moved away to allow him access and blue eyes watched him warily.

As soon as he reached out to pull at the light blue tee Barton had been put in, the archer recoiled. “Come on, I'm not going to kill you.”

“Says the guy with the electric device in his hands.”

“Just trust me.”

Clint let out a dry laugh but still allowed Tony to tug at the collar of the tee, pulling down to reveal a collarbone. The small paddle was taped right below it. When he stepped away, Barton ran his hands carefully along the line connecting the paddle and whatever was in the brown paper box. “Thanks?”

Tony ignored him, moving to pull the device out of the box. As soon as Barton saw it, his eyes narrowed in suspicion and he resisted the urge to rip the small paddle off his chest. “Okay, what the hell did you just connect me to?”

“Relax, Barton. It's pretty much a heart rate monitor.” He placed the blinking machine on the nightstand, the way the archer was eyeing it not going unnoticed. “Why do I have a feeling there's a but coming?”

“But, it will give you a minor electric shock when your heart starts to race.” Clint's eyes narrowed, along with Natasha's, confusion registering on the assassins' faces before understanding finally started to seep through. “So when the nightmare reaches it peak, we should be panicked enough to get shocked out of our sleep?” the redhead questioned, eyes moving from the 'heart rate monitor' to the line disappearing under Clint's shirt.

“Good girl,” Tony said, grinning, flicking a few switches on the machine before stepping back. Bruce had moved to stand behind Steve, both having settled for watching silently. “That's... actually kind of smart.”

“Wow, did you come to that conclusion all by yourself?”

Clint muttered something that was most likely a threat, judging by the way it made Natasha's lips quirk upwards. The billionaire was pretty sure he didn't want to know what the archer had said. “What now?” the redhead spoke up after a moment of slightly tense silence.

“Now, I make more of these babies-” he patted the machine as Bruce and Steve started to shuffle around, most likely moving to get out of the room. “And then? Then we wait.”