Pain. That was all Loki was able to register and understand. He was in pain and so was the child he was giving birth too, stuck half in half out, and Loki took a deep breath and pushed and pushed and pushed, but the babe came out no farther. Sweat pooled off of Loki and dripped onto the cave’s floor as his strength began to wane. It is going to die, he thinks mournfully. It will die and it’s his fault. His body was not worthy of carrying such a creature and a sob ripped itself from Loki’s lungs. Loki, again, clenched with his stomach and pushed with everything he had. He shifted and his child wormed out another few centimeters.
“Please,” Loki cried out as he renewed his efforts. Each internal shove felt as if his insides were being torn, shredded as the child came further and further into the world. Loki screamed as the child finally ripped itself from his womb and slid onto the stone floor in a bloody mess.
Loki’s breaths came in short ragged pants and he leaned forward and carefully cut the life cord connecting him to his son. He reached down and lifted the wolf cub up into his arms. Blindly it nuzzled into his shirt, its small nose wiggling wildly, taking in the scent of his mother.
Loki shifted and reached for a wet rag he’d sat nearby and gently wiped off the residue that was left behind on his son. Once done, Loki looked down and smiled at his newborn. The pup had dark fur, nearly black, but Loki was sure it would be dark grey in the sunlight. He positioned his son securely on his chest and allowed it to suck on the nipple of a bottle he provided. Once he was sated, Loki cradled his son and stroked its head soothingly.
“My beautiful boy. My Fenrir.” As the words fell from his lips, Loki fell into a light slumber.
When he next awoke, it was due to the sound of crows.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Loki’s hand tightened on Fenrir and held his breath. Maybe he was hearing things. Maybe it was some other breed…
Movement fluttered at the entrance of his cave and a sharp caw broke his hope. Odin had found him. That knowledge made his lungs freeze and his stomach drop. It was foolish for him to think Odin would simply leave him alone after his banishment. He’d been reckless, left his shield down for too long, and now this son will be taken from him just as Sleipnir had been.
Despair caused his fingers to tingle with protective magic and hope filled his breast once again. Perhaps he’d been more rested than he thought. Maybe he could get away. Maybe he could keep his Fenrir! He was desperate to try and he pushed out with his free hand. His magic, dutifully, responded and the birds were swept back on a current of energy.
With the birds stunned and the cave’s entrance open, Loki sat up painfully and ran out as quickly and carefully as allowed with the now frightened child. Fenrir yipped and whimpered, shoving his face repeatedly into Loki’s arm. Guilt welled up in him but was easily masked by panic when he heard the caws of the birds following him. Nowhere was safe from Odin’s eyes, especially not on Midgard. Loki could have slapped himself in stupidity. Why had he chosen this planet; the planet with Odin’s crows and Thor and his stupid Avengers?
He had thought it was a good idea at the time. Hide where you’re least expected. Loki blames this foolish thinking on the Hulk. After all, if he hadn’t broken Stark’s floor with his face, he might have had more wits about him. It doesn’t matter now though. He couldn’t conquer enough magic to open a new portal and even if he could, Fenrir wouldn’t survive it.
Closing his eyes, Loki used up his remaining energy to create copies of himself with Fenrir against his chest. They weren’t very good; they would never trick Odin in real life, but the birds were confused and that was all Loki needed. He doubled back and headed back to the cave. It was quiet and safe. No doubt Odin didn’t think he’d be stupid enough to go back. Loki moved to the back of the cave and laid down, pulling Fenrir tight to his chest. His heart was racing and Loki feared the exertion would be the cause of his son’s death. Loki’s heart was also racing and he tried to calm down. He knew the All-Father’s crows had seen Fenrir and soon the All-Father would come but he did not come that night. Or the next night or the night after that and despite himself, Loki began to relax and enjoy the happiness his son gave him.
As the days past, his son grew quickly, feeding off the nourishments of the milk Loki created. For the first two weeks, Loki did nothing but feed Fenrir and hold him close. His eyes had not yet opened and his noises were still small and pitiful and Loki only left the cave to use the bathroom, running back every time he heard Fenrir’s worried barks. Slowly, the muscle and fat on Loki’s body vanished with lack of nourishment. His magic franticly tried to supply the necessary supplements but between keeping a protective shield around the cave and supplying Fenrir with the proper foods needed to grow, there wasn’t much his magic could do for Loki. He was practically a mortal but Loki didn’t care. His son was safe and that’s all he needed.
On week three, Fenrir opened his eyes for the first time. Loki smiled at his frightened curiosity and showed him the world of their cave and the small patch of forest beyond the cave. Fenrir’s long legs enabled him to run at much faster speeds than normal and Loki could see the joy in Fenrir’s bright blue eyes at the feel of the sun and wind in his soft downy fur. Loki closed his emerald eyes and turned his face skyward. He too enjoyed the warm rays of the sun. He had spend nearly four weeks in the dark and the sun dispelled all the bad memories that haunted his thoughts. Loki’s breathing slowed and he listened to the soft sounds of the forest. All was quiet and peaceful and despite his nature, Loki liked the change.
Suddenly, his eyes snapped open and he looked around. It was quiet. It shouldn’t have been quiet. He should be able to hear Fenrir’s excited trampling, curious sniffing, and the occasional huff of surprise.
Instead he hears the cawing of crows.
So, I know Loki was only the mother of Sleipnir but for this story he was momma to Fenrir too.
Thanks to everyone who read and liked this story, special thanks to the two who reviewed!
It was late, late enough to be early morning and the Avengers were finally flying back home from a battle. Some lunatic in Georgia decided that it would be a great idea to create new-world zombie-type creatures. It was a fierce two day battle; two cities were leveled and over a hundred casualties were a result. The Avengers had been running on next to no sleep when Kevin Helgo, residential creep who was responsible for this whole mess, walked out of his “lair” and just… surrendered. He wasn’t losing, but he just gave up, smiling while Captain America read him his rights and cuffed his hands behind his back.
“Clint, call S.H.I.E.L.D, let them know to be ready when we get home. Tony, I need you to fly him home with you.”
“Why can’t he ride with you guys?”
“It’s a long drive. We can’t risk him escaping,” Steve answered with a sigh and Tony rolled his eyes.
“What about Thor?”
“Don’t be stupid Tony, he can’t fly that far,” Clint added, wrapping cloth around his bicep where a shallow cut bled sluggishly.
“Last I checked, I wasn’t talking to you,” Tony growled, teeth clenched, and turned sharply to Clint. He was tired, so tired, and angry and he missed Pepper and Clint was a loud-mouthed jerk and he just wanted to break something, preferably the pretty black bow Clint was so fond of, and he felt his hands clench and unclench, ready for action when Bruce looked up nervously. Tony sighed in defeat. His friend –possible best friend if he were to think about it- had been through enough stress and Tony would not be the cause of anymore.
“Fine,” He grumbled. “I’ll take Frankenstein back to the tower but I’m not filling out the paper work.”
“Okay,” Steve murmured, eyeing his team wearily. “Just- okay- whatever you say Tony.”
And that’s how Tony found himself flying over cities holding a criminal to his chest.
Tony arrived at Stark Tower just as the sun began to peek over the horizon. He unsteadily stepped onto the balcony and “accidently” dropped the sleeping criminal while he was taken out of his suit. The man jerked upright with a gasp but Tony didn’t have to deal with him anymore because S.H.I.E.L.D agents were waiting for him and there was Pepper, leading him up to his room and he collapsed soundlessly onto the bed.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Steve watched Tony fly off then turned to the remaining Avengers. Wordlessly he led them to the truck – a truck, couldn’t they have sent something bigger? He climbed in the cab with the S.H.I.E.L.D driver while the rest piled into the back. They quickly made the bed of the truck acceptable; Clint curled into Natasha’s side and Bruce used Thor’s cape as pillow. With the gently hum of the truck to lull them into sleep, they slept for the entire trip back home.
Bruce was the first to wake upon arriving at Stark tower. He stretched out his aching body and jumped over the side. He saw Steve being gently shaken awake in the cab and he looked down on the two agents and demi-god. Natasha and Clint were curled around each, Clint’s arm was wrapped protectively around her waist and his arm cushioned her head and she, in return, had one hand pressed to his chest and the other resting on his hip. Bruce smirked and wondered how long they were going to keep lying to themselves before reaching over and nudged Thor.
“No!” he cried out and lunched up before realizing his surroundings. His shout had awoken the master assassins and they were instantly on guard. Clint was reaching for his bow and Natasha brought the gun from its holder on her thigh in one fluid motion.
They assessed that there was no immediate danger and slowly lowered their weapons. Clint gave Thor a curious look and Thor smiled sheepishly before stepping over the edge.
“My apologies for waking you,” Thor said heartily as the two assassins stood and stretched.
“No harm, no foul,” Clint murmured throatily, rolling his shoulders and cracking his neck. Thor looked confused briefly before shrugging off Clint’s strange words and smiling largely.
“Come, now we must do the questioning!”
They followed Thor inside and up to the “S.H.I.E.L.D. level” and were surprised to see Tony already there. The man was notorious for avoiding work but the scientist was sitting in a metal chair, staring through the two way glass at the criminal.
When Tony made no acknowledgment to them, Bruce cautiously stepped toward him.
“Tony?” Bruce reached out and his hand was almost touching Tony’s shoulder when Tony sprung from his seat and turned to the group, clapping his hands with his usual smirk in place.
“Alrighty, let’s do this. This guy creeps me out way more than he should and he’s not staying here any longer than he needs to.” Bruce gave Tony a look over and deemed that nothing was wrong with the outside of Tony and followed the short man closely as they made their way into the interrogation room.
Tony stormed in first with Bruce following closely behind. Steve and Natasha were next followed by Clint, who was attempting to explain the phrase “no harm, no foul” to the Æsir behind him. As the Avengers filed in, the man’s smile grew and a chuckled formed in his throat.
“Oh good,” he chuckled. “I was afraid you wouldn’t be here.” Then he cleared his throat as if he had the most important thing to say, eyes never straying from the door.
“Your brother sends his love,” his tongue ran over his teeth and Steve heard a familiar crunch and lunched forward but the cyanide was already swallowed and the man was gurgling laughter. The Avengers looked over at Thor, who had paled and Mjolnir fell from his grip.
An agent rushed in and ushered the Avengers out. Thor’s face crumbled and he looked down at his empty hands.
“Loki –I thought… I thought he would stop all this,” he mumbled.
“It doesn’t make sense. My father stripped him of his magic. How could he-? Unless…” Thor turned and stalked toward the elevator. The Avengers followed closely behind him. Thor took the elevator to bottom floor and marched outside, staring up at the sky.
“Father,” he shouted. “Father I need your help!” Two black crows flew down from a nearby tree and squawked. Thor turned with a smile to his lips.
“Father, I need your help,” he repeated at a quieter level and the silent Avengers watched at Thor addressed the birds as if he was talking to the All-Father, and they wondered if he had finally gone mad.
“Will you help us find Loki? It would be easier for you, as your eyes are everywhere.” Thor continued, oblivious to the strange looks being directed at him. One of the crows cawed and Thor nodded and gave thanks before they flew off.
“I will have Loki’s location before the day’s end.” Thor said confidentially. At the confused looks he smiled largely. “My father has had two constant guardians over Midgard; the crows. If anyone can find Loki, my father can.” Thor proudly boasted.
As it turned out, their favorite villain wasn’t too far away and the crows returned within minutes, cawing loudly to Thor.
“Are we ready?” Thor asked, holding out his hand to summon his beloved hammer. Tony jumped and smacked Thor’s hand down.
“No! You can march yourself upstairs and retrieve it like a normal human being. It took me weeks to fix the damage you caused from last time.”
Thor smiled down at his small friend and walked into the door. When he returned, he found that Tony had his Iron Man suit on and the rest of the team, haggard as they looked, was ready. The Captain stepped to the street and hailed a cab while Thor told of Loki’s location and where to meet before attempting to capture him. The Avengers, minus Tony and Thor, started to climb into the back of the small cab when Bruce twitched and gripped the frame of the car tightly. Tony watched with worry and placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Hey Bruce,” Tony said, anchoring the shaking man into his human form. “Wanna sit this one out? I mean- you’ve been through a lot-“
“No,” Bruce said sharply. “The rest of the team’s just as tired. I’m not staying. It wouldn’t be fair.” His argument might have been more convincing if he hadn’t convulsed sharply during the end, making his voice go soft and weak. Just the thought of the upcoming threat made his hands clench uncontrollably.
“I’m sorry Brucie, but I’m making an executive decision. Stay here and hold down the fort. Do some yoga, bang some drums,” Tony nudged Bruce back toward the tower and the cab drove off. Tony jumped into a hover and looked back to his friend. “Just stay out of the weed until I get back!”
Bruce laughed and he could hear Tony do the same on the communicator in his ear as he flew away. Thor gave him a small smile before twirling Mjolnir and jumped off, leaving Bruce to walk back into the tower alone.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Thor and Tony only had to wait for a few minutes at the rendezvous point for the others to show up. Once they were together, they marched into the forest with stealth, but needed not. They could here Loki’s shouts from yards away.
“Fenrir!” he shrieked and the Avengers looked warily at each other. They decided that Thor should lead this, as he knew his brother better, and the Captain fell back without hesitation.
Thor marched on and the Avengers surrounded Loki within seconds. Watching through the brush, Thor saw Loki, dashing frantically, still shrieking the strange name. He was pale, paler than he’d ever been as a child, and rail thin. Thor stepped into the clearing and Loki froze, eyes wide and glistening with unshed tears.
“Brother,” Loki fell to his knees. Thor was shocked out of movement at the familiar term Loki refused to say normally. “Please.”
Loki heard the crunching of underbrush and looked up, green eyes wide and wild. His heart pounded against his rib cage and his legs collapsed under him. Thor was standing in front of him; the all might Thunder God with his faithful hammer hanging at his side. Loki’s hands shook but his mind was steady and he frantically thought through every possible scenario.
“Brother,” Loki said loudly, knowing that if he used the term, Thor would provide him more leniency. Sentimental fool. “Please.”
“Begging will not get you out of this, this time Brother.” Loki’s body was tingling with nerves and his stomach churned.
“Thor, please, he’s just a baby. He needs me.”
“Loki, what are you-“ His words stopped when Fenrir jumped into the clearing.
“Mama! Mama come see what I’ve found!” Fenrir’s high child voice reached Loki’s ears and he could have sobbed with relief and fear. Fenrir was safe. He had been exploring. Thor didn’t have him. Thor hadn’t known. But now blue eyes followed the wolf’s movement. Loki pulled on the scruff of Fenrir’s neck and he went limp, allowing himself to be pulled into his mother’s arms.
“Mama?” Fenrir asked softly, not yet noticing the stranger. His ears laid flat on his head and his small tail curled under his round belly. “What’s the matter?”
Loki could not answer; his attention was only for Thor.
“Loki? What is the meaning of this?” Thor took a step forward and Loki wished he were closer to the cave. He tried to stay kneeled but Thor’s advances weren’t slowing and so he stood on shaky legs, clutching his frightened wolf-child in his arms.
“Loki,” Thor said again, roughly. His patience was wearing thin and his team was eager to get home. Loki felt his fingers twitch in anticipation. A spell danced its way into Loki’s mouth but died on his lips when the rest of the Avengers stepped into view, weapons drawn and trained on him. Fenrir squirmed fearfully as they stepped closer, surrounding him in a half-circle.
“Get back!” Loki growled throatily. Fenrir whimpered against his chest and Loki stroked the pup’s head reassuringly.
“Loki, you need to calm down-“
“No!” Loki ignored the words Thor was speaking and shouted at Steve. “Don’t take another step closer!”
“Don’t move!” Someone barked at him when he took a step back and he froze. Fear shot through his body and before they could blink, his free hand flew into the air and pulled, causing their weapons to fly out of their hands. Loki put his son down and they ran.
Faintly, Loki registers the sharp whirring of Iron Man’s machine and cursed his luck before being blasted sideways. He crashed into a tree, his body being wrapped around it before he fell to the ground. Loki heard his ribs crack and he cried out. He tried to push himself up but pain erupted in his chest and stole his breath.
Fenrir heard his mother and ran back to him, sniffing worriedly. Loki’s fingers ran through the soft fur and he felt a wet tongue on his face.
“Go, keep running,” Loki said frantically, pushing on Fenrir. He heard the Avengers running to him and tears fell from his eyes.
“Please, Fenrir, for mommy. Go!” Loki was jerked upright and he let out a small cry of pain when metal fingers gripped him much too tightly. Fenrir growled, baring his teeth in a pitiful attempt to look frightening.
“What’s up with the dog?” Hawkeye asked Loki irritably, aiming his arrow at Fenrir’s face. Loki struggled against Iron Man’s grip. Hawkeye would never hurt an animal, but it was nice to see the god panic. Must be a pet or something. Strangely, Hawkeye envisioned Loki more of a cat person.
“Please,” his voice cracked and Hawkeye looked over in slight confusion. The Trickster God never asked, let alone beg. Clint lowered his bow and Loki sighed in relief before struggling again as Thor grabbed the snarling puppy by the scruff of its neck. Natasha put a hand around its snout and took it from Thor’s grip, holding it to her chest. This seemed to calm Loki a little gave Thor enough time to trap Loki’s wrists in Asgardian cuffs.
For a moment the stood in silence, watching Natasha try and soothe the writhing puppy in her arms. Fenrir tried to bite at the fingers around his mouth and he whined fearfully, blue eyes meeting his mother’s green.
“Shh,” Loki said softly, the noise for Fenrir only. It seemed to soothe the puppy enough into submission that suited the Avengers.
“Alright, let’s head back,” Steve said, breaking the stillness and making Fenrir’s ears lie flat on his head.
“Let me guess,” Tony said bitterly before putting an arm around Loki’s waist. Loki gasped and bit his tongue sharply to keep from crying out as his ribs were jostled.
“Tony,” Steve said warningly and Tony sent the Captain an annoyed look before jetting off.
As the wind bit Loki’s face, he tried very hard not to think about how scared his son must be. The Widow seemed gentle enough, and he would much rather S.H.I.E.L.D. have him than Thor.
Yes, he would be kept jailed, probably locked deep under the earth, never again to feel the soft sunlight or smell the fresh air; but it would be a better fate than on Asgard. At least here, Loki might have a chance to steal him back.
He was in the middle of planning how he could convince S.H.I.E.L.D. to keep Fenrir from Thor when Tony landed on Avenger Tower. He was then taken from the iron grip and herded into a concrete room.
Loki wondered what the purpose off all of this was. Surely they would ship him and Fenrir back to Asgard, where he would be mocked again as he begged the All-Father for more time. Where he would be denied everything and left alone; just like the last time.
Loki jumped when the door opened loudly and his head whipped around. Greasy strands of hair hung around his face and he stared up at the entering Avengers with watering eyes. His breathing sped up when he saw the Widow enter with her arms empty.
“Where is he?” He asked her, trying to read the answer in her face.
“I don’t think you get to ask the questions,” Nick Fury said, sweeping in the room. Loki’s chest heaved as the director seated himself on the other side of the table. The Avengers were lined along the back wall, looking dramatic with their arms crossed and faces grim.
“Do you recall a man by the name of Kevin Helgo?”
“What? I demand-“
“You are in no position to make demands. Now I’ll ask again. Who is Kevin Helgo to you?”
“I- No one,” Panic built in his chest as the Director stared at him with one dark eye. “I don’t know who that is. Please, can I just- can I just see Fenrir?”
“If you answer my questions. Now, why did he say he knew you? He delivered a message from you.”
Loki’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t know who he is!”
“What were you planning to do with him? Why’d he surrender?” Fury asked, ignoring Loki’s outburst.
“I do not know what plans you speak of! You stupid apes don’t listen!”
Loki saw Thor shift and Fury stood. “Let’s see if you want to talk in a few hours.”
“No! Wait, I’m sorry!” Loki shouted as the Director walked to the door. What did they have planned for his young son? Would these mortals lower themselves to such a degree to hurt a young child? Yes, his mind answered, if they hate you enough.
Fury turned around slowly. The Avengers exchanged startled glances and Loki swallowed thickly.
“I-I confess,” Loki looked at the Avengers nervously before looking back at the Director. “Now, may I see my son?”
I hope this chapter didn't disappoint you all!
THANK YOU FOR THE REVIEWS !
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Your son?" Fury asked, one eye brow arching. "Agent Barton, did you detain anyone else?"
"Well, seems we don't have your son." Loki arched one thin eyebrow and looked pointedly at Thor.
"The wolf pup. He is mine."
Tony choked. "Again?"
"Did you not learn from last time?"
"Last time?" Tony interrupted loudly but Thor continued as if the Man of Iron hadn't even spoken.
"We must go before father so you may ask for forgiveness." Thor stepped forward, reaching for Loki as if to take him right at that moment.
"Yes I learned," Loki sneered, jerking away from Thor. "Sleipnir was born of Asgard. Fenrir is not. He is of Earth; more specifically, America, and to my knowledge, citizens born on American soil are protected under their laws. You can not touch him." Loki could have laughed. This was not the way neither the mortals nor his brother thought this would go.
"Now, may I see my son?"
Fury looked over to Thor, then back to Loki. "Not yet."
Loki rose quickly, upsetting his chair with a loud bang. He wiped his sweaty palms on his pants and tried to slow his breathing. "You said I could see him if I answered your questions. I confessed!"
"Calm down. I will keep my word. I just need to… consult with some people."
Consult? Consult with whom? Odin? No, no, no, no. Odin will take him. He'll convince them. Tell them lies like he told the people of Asgard lies about Sleipnir. No, he needed to see Fenrir. Had to see him before it was too late.
His breaths became short and the cell spun as black dots flashed across his vision. He was vaguely aware of a high pitched whine and didn't have enough time to care that it was coming from him before he fell into darkness.
* * * * * * * *
Thor reached for Loki but missed and the young god fell, hitting his head on the concrete floor. Steve rushed forward and knelt beside Thor. Thor's hand gently cradled Loki's head and Steve was glad to see no blood. Steve put a hand on Loki's chest while he bent over to get Loki's pulse but hastily pulled away when he felt the bones shift.
Steve slowly reached out again and allowed his hand to hover just over Loki's heart before faintly jumping and pulling his hand away when he saw something move under Loki's shirt. Without much thought, he raised Loki's shirt up and recoiled when he saw the bones move underneath dark, bruised skin.
"Is that- is that normal?" Thor looked over and smiled softly.
"It is for him. When we were young, he was easily injured. He spelled his bones to realign and mend so he would spend less time with healers. I assume Father could not undo such an old spell."
"Would he?" Steve asked softly. "Undo a spell that could potentially save his life?"
Thor nodded, "If it would be cross-productive to Father's lesson."
"So he was always a spell casting little-"
"Tony!" Natasha said sharply and he looked over at her with his eyebrows raised.
"Well," he replied defensively.
"I suppose it was in his blood," Thor answered, voice heavy with memory. "Loki was always so small, much too small to be useful in battle, se he started to learn magic to be able to keep up with us. I'll never forget the first time he knocked Volstagg clear across the room. Loki was petrified they wouldn't talk to him again," he trailed off when he noticed Loki's eyes were open and glaring at him. He sat up and pulled his shirt from Steve's grip and pushed it down.
"Story time, is it?" Loki snarled. Clint fingered his bow and Natasha's hand went to her hip. Fury, however, stood at the door, looking down at his crew.
"I think you better start explaining. Quickly. I'm running low on patience."
"What is there to explain?" Loki asked sharply, wincing as his chest twitched.
"How about the fact that you claim to be the father of a wolf pup," Fury crossed his arms and leaned against the wall.
"I am his mother," Loki corrected softly, looking down at his chained hands now resting in his lap.
"Hush Loki," Thor said louder in attempt to drown out Loki's voice but Steve heard and withdrew with his eyes wide and mouth open.
"No-" Thor began to protest but Loki stood, suddenly furious.
"Yes," he sneered. "I am the mother. Just another piece of evidence that I am a freak amongst my own people. Thor! Get off!" Thor grabbed Loki in attempt to silence him but Loki shook out of the grip.
"You people think that you can just do whatever you please, change someone's life in however you choose; but you will not touch Fenrir. He is mine and I will not watch another child of mine be taken from me!"
His chest heaved and his skin began to glow with a strange blue light, causing the Avengers to look uneasily at each other. Fury straightened and hung his hands at his sides.
"Alright, calm down. We'll take you to him. Just give me a moment." He gestured to the door with his head and the Avengers filed out. Thor was last and he gave Loki a sorrowful look before shutting the thick door. Loki tried to calm his racing heart and push the coldness away from the surface of his skin. He smiled bitterly at how scared the mortals had become.
They were all cowards deep down. Take away their weapons and their armor, how brave would they be? They wouldn't last two days living as Loki is forced to live.
Loki dropped the smile when the door opened again and Thor and Clint walked in. He started towards them quickly but slowed when he saw Clint's hand twitch for the bow that was no longer at his side. Loki looked over to Thor, who wouldn't meet his eyes, but his massive hand clamped on his shoulder and led him out. Loki was uneasy about having Clint behind him but he tried to push the feeling of helplessness away and walked faster, trying to urge Thor to do the same. They turned and Clint passed them, unlocking a door on the left. Loki heard Fenrir crying and rushed forward into the bright room.
So, I feel like I'm spoiling you all because I already have these chapters (up to ch.10) written and I'm excited for your responses so I'm posting daily, but once I get caught up, the updates won't be every day.. Consider yourselves forewarned
Also, tell me how you liked this chapter:D
Loki's wide eyes scanned the room. It was large with white walls and white tiles. Boxes lined the walls; it looked like a storage closet. Loki could hear Fenrir's high-pitched whimpers and he stepped farther into the room. His sharp eyes were looking for any threats, any reason his son should be sounding so distressed. Then he saw him, and his blood ran cold. He went to Fenrir and knelt down before turning to glare at his brother and Clint. His green eyes were hard and anger seized his body.
"You. Locked. Him. In. A. Cage?" His voice was icy sharp. He slipped his fingers through the cage bars and Fenrir licked them, biting him softly in recognition.
"He was biting and snarling like a menace. What were we supposed to do?" Clint asked and Loki's hand closed into a fist.
"He is just a baby. He was scared! Where is the key? I order you to release him!" Loki stood and Fenrir cried loudly when Loki's fingers left the cage. Clint raised his head and glared over at Loki.
"You can't order me to do anything anymore." Loki gritted his teeth then turned to Thor.
"Thor, the keys."
"I know not where they are, brother."
"Then find out! He's just a baby Thor. You-you can't think this is right. He hasn't done anything wrong." Loki's voice took on the note of desperation and tears made his eyes glassy and blurred his vision.
"He is a monster."
Thor's words froze Loki to his very core. He blinked. A monster? His innocent son – a monster? Oh, Thor has no idea what a monster truly is. Loki's eyes glinted orange and his skin began to glow blue like before. The room chilled and Loki could see Thor's and Clint's breath puffing in front of their faces.
"A monster?" Loki asked. His voice was low; dangerous. He could feel his blue skin lurking just out of sight. Clint raised his hand to his earpiece and Loki watched the movement with sharp eyes.
"Sir, we have a situation. We'll need the key to the cage," Clint's deep voice reached Loki's ears and he could have laughed. Did they not expect a fight from him? Did they honestly think he would be content with seeing his son caged? Clint listened to whatever the Director had to say and nodded before verbally affirming the information. His hazel eyes flickered up to Loki's face and his right hand clenched, grasping for the weapon that wasn't there.
"We're getting you the key, just chill out," he said firmly and within the minute, Loki heard the quick tapping of someone running down the hall in expensive shoes. A small man appeared in the doorway and walked into the room. He nervously ran a hand along his slicked back hair and edged by Loki. He knelt down, slipped the key in the deadbolt and turned it until it clicked loudly.
Loki all but shoved the man away and opened the door. Fenrir jumped out and ran behind Loki, hiding in the small space between the cage, the wall and Loki. He wiggled his nose between Loki's legs and peered out at the S.H.I.E.L.D agents. His tail was pressed tightly to his belly and he trembled against Loki.
Loki wanted privacy but knew that was asking for too much, so he simply turned to face Fenrir. The room slowly began to warm up again and Clint nodded to the nameless agent and he scurried back to wherever he came from. Clint looked back into the room and was shocked to see Loki and the dog –his son- speaking to each other in what Clint could only call 'dog language'. Loki and Fenrir yipped and whimpered and barked and growled together and seemed to know what the other was saying. Clint looked over to Thor but the demi-god was simply watching with a blank expression.
* * * * * * * * * *
"Mama," Fenrir whimpered. "Mama I was so scared."
"I know," Loki murmured back, running soothing fingers through the soft fur.
"Please don't let them take me away again," Fenrir begged, pushing his head against Loki's chest hard enough to nearly knock him over. Loki's heart lurched and he pulled Fenrir into his arms.
"They won't take you away from me ever again." Loki swore. He heard someone enter the room and his spun, snarling and holding Fenrir tightly. Clint raised his hands and stopped.
"Easy there. It's time to go."
"No, I'm-I'm not ready." Loki tried to keep his voice steady but failed.
"We will allow you to take it with you if you cooperate, brother," Thor's voice boomed in disapproval but Loki's body sagged with relief. He wrapped his arms awkwardly around Fenrir, careful not to get his fur caught in the chain between his hands, and stood.
Clint led this time and Thor followed behind. Loki tried to calm Fenrir in soft tones while Fenrir nuzzled into Loki's neck and his dull nails pressed into Loki's shoulder. Loki repositioned his hands, placing one on Fenrir's rump and one on his lower back. He walked into his cell and sat on the metal chair, balancing Fenrir on his lap and staring into the mirror on the opposite wall.
Loki can imagine all the Avengers piled into the little room, watching him, waiting for him to put his guard down so they could strike. But they will have to wait until the stars die and leave only darkness in the sky because he's already been careless enough.
His musings are broken by Director Fury when he walks into the cell. Fenrir hunched down and peered over the table, pressing into Loki's stomach for comfort.
"Are you in a better mood to talk?" Fury asks and Loki nods once, moving his hand down Fenrir's spine. Loki wondered what they would do to him when they realized he was lying.
"Good," the man paused, opened the file he'd carried in with him, and turned it so a photograph was facing Loki. "Kevin Helgo. Who was he to you?"
Loki studied the photo before looking back up. "He was a-a henchman; nothing more than a mindless slave."
Fury cocked an eyebrow. "And what did you plan on doing to him after the robots were finished?"
"Kill him," Loki replied offhandedly. "Once I had the robots in my control I planned on coming here and launching my attack. As you see, I failed." Loki smiled inwardly. This mortal was revealing everything he needed. He wasn't called the Silvertongue for nothing.
"That's interesting to know," Fury said casually, pulling the file back towards him and removing a single photo. A half-dead being laid in the streets, his skull was split and purple goop of nothingness looked to be oozing out.
"Especially since Helgo created zombies." Loki tensed and his heart began to beat erratically.
"Yes, well, zombies, robots, they're really the same thing to me." He desperately tried not to panic but the way Fury stared at him with one unblinking eye reminded him of Odin's scrutinizing stare and Loki feared the leader could somehow see his thoughts.
"I'm sure. If you don't mind refreshing my memory, where was it that you sent out your zombie attack?"
Loki's heart was in his mouth and his stomach was in his boots. Quickly, he looked down at his lap. How was he expected to answer this? It wasn't New York, the buildings behind the body in the photo were smashed to the ground, and surely he would have heard about it. Where, then, was it? Why did there have to be so many possibilities? The odds were stacked high against him and he found himself bitterly unsurprised.
"I do not know."
"And why is that?"
"I-" Loki looked back down at his son again and tightened his arms around him. "I lied about my confession."
"You know, people here lie to get out of trouble. Not into it." Loki looked at the Director with wide eyes, unsure of what he was supposed to say. Fury sighed.
"So why did you confess?" He elaborated.
"I needed to see my son before he was taken away," Loki answered quietly.
"Where would he have gone?"
"I fear Thor will take him back to Asgard and I beg of you to not allow that to happen." Loki leaned forward as he said this and Fury was startled at the intensity of Loki's words.
"Why?" Loki paused; his green eyes flickered to the mirror then back to Fury, unsure of how to explain.
"Nothing good will come of him there." Brisk and to the point.
"What makes you think that?" Loki looked down and touched Fenrir's paw, imagining the pad away and the rough feeling of a hoof took its place.
"Director; I don't know how much Thor has told you, but this isn't my first child."
And next we learn of Sleipnir!
Mild language warning. Also, your guys' reviews make me so happy! Thanks for reviewing and Kudos'ing!
Fury’s eyebrows rose in surprise. He leaned back in his chair with his arms crossed over his chest. Loki’s eyes darted to the mirror again and he swallowed nervously. He knew the Avengers would be watching. He knew Thor would be watching and that was what scared him most of all. Thor claimed to love him, but Loki can still hear Thor’s voice booming over him as he wept, “You should have known better. This is what you deserve.” That is not love and Loki dreads to think of what imaginary crime he’s committed this time that will make him “deserve” to have Fenrir be taken from him too.
“I have had one child before; back when I was much younger. He was taken from me without just cause and I fear Odin will try and take this child as well.”
Fury opened his mouth but was stopped from speaking by Thor, who had thrown open the cell door with such force it made small cracks in the wall. Loki jumped up and held Fenrir to his chest so tightly that Fenrir yelped in surprised pain. Fury stood up calmly and eyed the two gods carefully, fully prepared to throw Thor out and lock Loki in solitary.
“That is not true Loki! Our Father took your spawn because it was a threat to Asgard!” Thor’s voice seemed to make the Loki the Avengers were used to come out. Loki’s eyes narrowed and he sneered at Thor.
“Oh yes, because a colt with too many legs is such a terror to the realm!”
“Loki, you know not what Father saw in the vision,” Thor tried to explain loudly.
“And neither do you!” Loki shouted back. “Sleipnir was no more deadly than any other horse!”
“He had the mind of an Æsir!”
“But not the words, Thor!”
“You know not what you are talking about,” Thor said and Loki’s nostrils flared in anger.
“Sleipnir was of my body. I know all I need!”
“Does anyone care to explain what’s going on?” Fury interrupted sharply and both men looked to him. They’d completely forgotten about their audience and Loki could now feel the stares from the rest of the Avengers behind the glass.
“Loki changed his form and laid with a beast and gave birth to the threat of Asgard, shaming both the family and the high name of Odin,” Thor said quickly and Loki wanted to scream in exasperation.
“You know not the truth!”
Thor laughed, loud and cruel. “And I suppose the God of Lies and Mischief is going to tell it?”
Loki’s eyes tightened and his lips thinned. He looked down at the terrified child in his arms and sighed brokenly. He supposes it is what is to be expected. The God of Lies tries to be truthful but who would take the risk of believing him?
Apparently, Director Fury would.
“Loki, you said Thor didn’t know the truth. This is your chance to be honest. Your only chance. Lie to me and I’ll ship your ass back to Asgard. Understand?” Loki’s eyes widened and he nodded, suddenly looking like the lost, scared boy they’d found in the woods.
“And you,” Fury turned to Thor. “You can either sit here and be silent or you can leave and wait in the observation room with everyone else, but you are to never interrupt my damn interrogation again.” Thor frowned at being addressed to in that manner but nodded at the Director and stepped out, closing the door behind him. Fury sat back down and once Loki was sure that no one was going to come back in, he sat down also.
“When I was younger,” Loki started nervously, “the wall surrounding Asgard was destroyed. Our strongest warriors were away at war and could not help rebuild. The threat of a new war was high and the council was frantic with worry. A wanderer approached our castle’s gate and said he could help us rebuild the wall.
“However, he required the sun, the moon, and Goddess Freyja’s hand in marriage. Freyja, the stubborn beauty, absolutely refused and Odin was on his way to meet with the builder, to decline the offer when I approached him with a plan.
“I was foolish and desperate for his affection. Thor was away at war and I had no one to compete with. I told Odin to give the builder a time limit. It would be impossible for one man to complete the wall in a year alone, so Odin agreed to give the builder three seasons to complete the wall.”
Loki smiled bitterly. “I thought it was fool-proof. Either the builder would decline and leave, or he would try and we would get free labor. I was so high on Odin’s approval of my plan that when the builder asked to use his horse, I agreed blindly,” Loki paused, remembering the ecstasy he felt at his father’s praise. He looked down at Fenrir and a desperate urge to tell Fenrir how proud he was of him overcame Loki. He swallowed the feeling and looked back up. The words he wanted to say were private; his enemies didn’t deserve to hear them.
“As it turns out, the horse was no ordinary horse. It was easily three sizes larger and stronger than any creature on four legs. The stallion did most of the work and the wall went up quickly.
“The council was furious. They believed I’d deceived them on purpose; out of revenge. Someone had started a rumor that I fancied Freyja and she rejected me. They said I was trying to punish her. I hadn’t even reached manhood and already they thirsted for my blood.
“My death sentence hung over my head and I was so afraid. Usually I had Thor to turn to, as much trouble as he got me in, he always was able to get me out of it, but he was away and I was alone.” As usual.
“Four days before the deadline, members of the council snuck into my chambers and attacked me. They planned on killing me that night but I had sworn with every oath I knew that I would fix it. They gave me one more night and left. I lay on my floor, bleeding and bruised, and thought of every possible plan. I laid there until the sun rose then went and waited for the builder to wake.
“When he left his tent, I changed my form into that of a mare. When the stallion got a hold of my scent, he went wild and chased me all over the hills of Asgard. I ran and ran and he still wasn’t waning of energy. It was growing dark when I collapsed. My legs refused to move and my energy was depleted. I was afraid that he would leave once he caught me but I- he- he was occupied all night long.” Loki’s face burned in shame and embarrassment and he could no longer look at Fury or the mirror.
“The next morning I tried to return to normal but my male body would not stick. I was mortified to learn why. I was too ashamed to return home in the state I was in so I stayed in the form of the mare until my colt was born.”
Fury leaned forward and stared at Loki with the one eye he had. Loki squirmed uncomfortably
“He was my first child,” Loki finished softly.
“What happened to him?” Fury asked bluntly and Loki winced.
“I returned home, planning to lie about Sleipnir’s origin but Odin already knew. I was horrified and begged him to keep his parentage a secret from everyone but Thor and my moth- Frigga. He agreed and I thought that was the end of it. I thought I’d be allowed to keep my child, maybe as a secret but he’d still be mine.” Tears burned Loki’s eye and Fenrir licked under his chin.
“Odin is clever, though. Much cleverer than I and the moment Sleipnir was weaned of me, Odin snatched him from my side and declared him an enemy of Asgard.” Loki’s voice was hard and cold as ice.
“They wanted him dead. An eight-legged colt- a danger. He could barely even walk properly. I wasn’t sure what they thought he could possibly do to them but I begged for Odin to spare his life.
“The kind and noble king thought over my request and granted it to me. He let Sleipnir live, but only as a life of the common beast.” Loki snarled the end in disgust. Anger flooded his body as he remembered the first time he saw Sleipnir bridled and trapped in the reins of Odin’s fists.
“I was refused access to his stable and have only watched him grow from a distance. I’m not even sure if he would remember who I am were he to see me again.” Loki trailed off, looking at Fenrir.
He ran a hand down the dark fur but it stuck uncomfortably to his damp palms so he wiped them on his trousers instead. He thought about the shame he felt, the humility everyone made him feel for being taken like a mere maiden; the way he was ignored and Thor was praised for smashing the builder’s skull when he returned from battle. Loki looked up and Fury seemed to be contemplating the story Loki had just told and stood. Loki’s heart pounded in his throat.
“I’ll have your facts checked. I’ll be back.” Loki wanted to scream. He was telling the truth! Why was that so hard to believe? Because you’re a monster, his mind answered and he wanted to tell himself to mind his own business but he realized how insane that sounded and stayed silent.
Fury walked out and Loki couldn’t slow his breathing. Fenrir noticed Loki’s nervousness and whimpered into his neck.
“It’s okay. We’ll be okay,” Loki murmured softly, nuzzling his face into the fur on Fenrir’s head.
The building shook as thunder rumbled across the sky and the lights in the cell flickered. Loki swallowed thickly.
Thor was going to Asgard.
Hello! Hope this chapter doesn't disappoint.. It's more of a filler really...
Thor held Mjolnir high above his head as he traveled down the Bifröst. Anger pulsed through his body, causing white light to flair from the hammer’s head and making her pull him faster along the bridge. Loki was obviously lying; taking advantage of his mortal friends. The story he told was fake and Thor tried to tell the Director this but Fury had told him he needed to talk to Odin anyways.
Nearly all the Avengers had felt pity for his brother and Thor snarled. Loki was the Liesmith. He didn’t tell the truth, not when lying came so fluidly to him. Thor felt Mjolnir give a small jerk and he landed before Heimdall unsteadily. The watcher turned his golden eyes to the Asgardian prince and nodded in greeting.
“Heimdall,” Thor greeted shortly in return before storming down the bridge. He walked hastily through the town, where the peasants shouted his name and cheered as he walked down the streets. He ignored it all, his mind still on Midgard with Loki and the Avengers.
Loki spun the tale of a boy, trying to fix his mistake and being horribly violated. He talked of a boy who was deprived of family when he was in need. It was a good tale, a lie but good nonetheless. It almost managed to plant a seed of doubt in his own mind; doubt that his father was truthful; doubt that Odin was in the right.
But Thor knew Loki. He knew the younger man better than anyone and this was just the thing Thor was expecting. He marched through the castle halls; not bothering to knock at the Throne room and swung the doors open.
Frigga and Odin looked up at his entrance and Frigga stood, stepping down the golden stairs to greet her son with a tight hug.
“Hello Mother,” Thor said affectionately, wrapping his thick arms around her. His blue eyes flickered up to Odin, who had approached the stairs and slowly descended them.
“Thor,” Odin greeted. “I trust you found Loki.”
Frigga pulled away from Thor and looked between her son and husband.
“Loki? What of Loki?” Worry flooded her voice and Thor’s heart grew heavy. “Is he in trouble? Thor, is your brother alright?”
“He is in no more trouble than usual, Mother.” Thor said smoothly before turning to his father. “He is actually the reason I am here. Father, I have been sent to ask questions of you regarding Loki and his… spawn.”
Frigga’s eyes lit with some emotion Thor couldn’t identify. Odin nodded to her and she squeezed Thor’s hand one final time before she walked out. Thor watched his mother leave before turning to Odin again. Odin watched Thor struggle to start before smiling and gesturing to the stairs.
“Sit, my son. Tell me what is troubling you so.” Odin lowered himself onto the steps and Thor did the same.
“Father, I know not where to begin.”
“The beginning is always a good place,” Odin teased lightly. Thor looked up into the one remaining eye of his father and smiled softly.
“Will you tell me the tale of Loki and your steed?” Odin tilted his head and regarded Thor curiously.
“What is this about, my son?”
“I have been sent here to compare the data between Loki’s lies and your account of the day the Wall of Asgard was nearly complete.”
Odin made a noise of interest in his throat. “And what has he told you?”
“He said that Sleipnir is not a monster and that you took him unjustly. I fear- well, his tale was very convincing- and I fear my friends may be beginning to believe him.” Odin blinked slowly and Thor looked down at his trousers.
“And what do you think?” His tone was soft but had Thor looked up, he would have seen the ice in Odin’s blue eye.
“I believe it to be falsehoods,” Thor’s voice was hesitant but grew stronger. “Loki has always tried to talk himself out of trouble and this is no different.”
Thor stood and turned to his rising father. He embraced him in a hug. Odin wrapped his arms around Thor, stroking the golden hair as he had when Thor was a boy.
“Thank you for your help Father,” Thor mumbled into Odin’s shoulder. Odin said nothing and Thor pulled back smiling.
“I must head back to Midgard. They await my news before sentencing Loki. Good day Father, let Mother know I said farewell.”
“Be safe, Thor.”
Thor grinned and made his way down the few remaining steps but stopped when he reached the floor and turned to face Odin.
“Father; before I go I must tell you that- I know not how to put this, but, you failed to harness all of Loki’s magic. He has been causing havoc on Midgardian villages; that is why my friends were after him,” Thor trailed off, unsure of how to finish once he started. It was unnerving, pointing out his father’s mistake, but he felt that for Loki’s lesson to work, he must let his father know.
Odin nodded in acknowledgment and gave Thor a soft smile. “I shall fix that; immediately. Go on back to Midgard. All will be well.” Thor smiled brightly and walked down the long room and left.
It won’t be until much later that Thor realizes his father didn’t give him any answers.
Odin watched Thor walk out of the room, Mjolnir swinging easily in his hand. He sighed heavily as the doors closed behind his son before he shouted for his personal guards.
“Begin to ready your best men. Soon, you venture to Midgard.”
Here, have some plot
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Loki sat as thunder continued to rumble loudly. Fenrir trembled against him and Loki put his hand on Fenrir’s back in a useless attempt to calm him. They sat there long enough for Loki to lose himself in his own thoughts. He jumped in surprise when Fenrir bit down on his exposed fingers. Loki’s eyes darted to the mirror then down to his son. Fenrir was hungry. Loki casually stroked the air, attempting a simple conquering spell, and felt stupidly surprised that nothing happened. He looked at the cuffs on his wrists and cursed before looking back up at the mirror.
He hoped that they were still watching him. Quickly, he debated on which Avenger to address and settled on the good Captain. The super-soldier didn’t like him, but he seemed the most likely to have mercy on Fenrir.
Loki cleared his throat. “Captain?” he called out. He waited a few silent minutes, Fenrir gnawing on his fingers, and was about to call out again when the door slid open slowly. Steve walked in and stood by the door. He was freshly showered, blonde hair darkened by the damp and slicked back. A white shirt stretched across his broad chest and hugged his shoulders tightly.
“You asked for me?” Steve asked stiffly, folding his arms across his chest, blue eyes hard.
“I- yes. I require substance for Fenrir.”
Loki saw something soft flicker in the icy depths of Steve’s eyes and the man took a step closer.
“Substance such as?”
“Any form of meat and milk in a bottle.” Steve nodded and left the cell. Loki was relieved and his breaths came easier. He wasn’t expecting it to go so easily. These mortals owed him nothing; especially not mercy, for him or his son. Yet Steve returned quickly, bowl of raw chicken in one hand, a bottle of milk in the other.
“Thank you,” Loki said seriously, taking the food from Steve’s hand. Fenrir picked up the scent of the meat and sat up so fast he nearly fell off of Loki’s lap.
“Easy,” Loki hummed softly as Fenrir squirmed toward the bowl. Loki lifted a slick, pink slice of chicken out of the bowl and held it in front of Fenrir’s snout. Fenrir bit down greedily, his tiny puppy teeth bit into the meat and he tore it from his mother’s grip.
Steve watched as Loki patiently fed Fenrir, first bits of meat, then the bottle of milk. When he was finished, Loki looked up nervously. His hands shook as he pushed the bowl and bottle toward Steve. Steve felt sympathy for the super-villain despite himself. He walked to the table and grabbed the items and cleared his throat.
“Do you want anything?”
Confusion and suspicion rivaled a spot in Loki’s eyes before he shook his head. “I am fine.”
“You don’t look fine.” The words slipped out of Steve’s mouth before he could stop them and he blushed when Loki turned his hard gaze on him. “I just mean- you’re malnourished. We have-“
“I am fine,” Loki growled through clenched teeth. He would never accept food from enemies, he wasn’t an idiot, and even if he would, his nerves were causing his stomach to churn too fiercely for him to eat.
“Alright,” Steve said sharply and turned to leave. Loki’s heart pounded in his chest and he began to feel light headed. Why couldn’t he hold his tongue? He could not afford to anger the mortals anymore than they already were.
Before he could open his mouth to apologize, a loud thundering noise shook the building. The floor rattled under Steve’s feet with a force strong enough to cause him to drop the bowl and grip the wall for support. He looked over his shoulder at a wide-eyed Loki and gripped the door handle tightly as the tremors in the building stopped. He opened the door and Loki could see the Avengers assembled in the hall.
“Was that Thor?” He heard someone ask before Steve left and shut the door behind him.
Steve looked at his team while the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent assigned to “watching” them put a finger to his ear and began talking in a low voice. They all had time to shower and dress in casual, comfortable clothes and right now Steve wished he was in his Captain America suit more than anything. He felt safer, braver, in the stupid outfit and without knowing what the explosion was from –it definitely wasn’t Thor- he could use the little courage the suit gave him.
“There’s no way that was Thor, Caretaker,” Clint voiced and sent a sharp look to the agent.
“He’s got much more-“
“Sir?” JARVIS interrupted fluidly.
“JARVIS,” Tony said, almost thankfully. “Tell me what’s going on.”
“There seems to have been a small explosion on floor 19, left wing, sir. My readings have picked up severe damages.” Steve took his eyes off the ceiling and found that his team was looking at him.
“What’s on floor 19?” He asked and Tony faced him but his eyes found Bruce. The two seemed to be having a silent conversation while Tony answered.
“Just storage; files and records and stuff.”
“No secrete labs?” Natasha asked, catching the look between the two scientists.
“What? No. There is literally nothing there but boxes.” Tony answered, snapping his eyes away from Bruce and looking to the assassin.
“Right, well, let’s go then,” Steve said, reaching for his shield that was leaning against the wall where he’d left it when talking to Loki. Natasha felt her hip, nodding to herself in assertion. The building shook again and the sound of screeching metal filled the air. The fire alarm blared and people rushed past, heading toward the fire escape routes. Within minutes the building was empty except for themselves, the Caretaker, and a few upper-level S.H.I.E.L.D agents, who were checking the floors, making sure everyone was evacuated before they too left.
“JARVIS?” Tony asked, barely managing to remain upright.
“Floor 18, left wing; fires have been taken care of, sir. Unknown persons are now entering the building,” JARVIS answered and suddenly everyone was a flurry of movement. The Caretaker started barking orders into his earpiece and Tony was snapping on metallic bracelets. Clint reached over his shoulder for his bow and cursed loudly.
“Where’s my bow?” He shouted at the room. “Couls-!” The shout died in his throat and the room froze. Clint swallowed hard as everyone turned to look at him. Natasha sent him a worried look before turning to the now-frozen agent.
“His bow, now!” She ordered and the Caretaker scurried to obey. She looked back to Clint and saw that his face had reddened and his eyes flickered around the room before resting on her face. She tried to wipe the pity and sadness out of her eyes and sent him a small smile. Bruce exchanged a nervous glance with Steve and Tony’s stony face was unreadable.
“Clint,” Steve said slowly and the archer looked up. Natasha’s head shot up in the direction of Steve and the super soldier had the good reason to feel nervous. Natasha would set the world on fire for her partner and if Steve caused Clint to shed anymore tears over their lost friend, there would be hell to pay. Lucky for Steve, Clint made a soft smile, although Natasha could see through it. See the pain.
“Slip of the tongue. Old habits die hard,” He said smoothly. Steve opened his mouth to say something but the Caretaker returned and held out Clint’s bow. He snapped open and slipped his arrows over his shoulder.
“Clint-“ Steve started again and Tony interrupted fluidly.
“Are we going to sit and wait for them to find something valuable or are we going to go stop them?” Tony asked, raising his eyebrows and fiddling with his bracelets. Steve sighed softly and turned, leading the way down the hall. Bruce and Tony followed, but not before Tony sent a worriedly look at the two assassins and Natasha sent him a grateful one back.
And if Tony saw Clint squeeze Natasha’s hand, he had the common sense not to comment.
* * * * *
“JARVIS, can you get a visual reading on the intruders?”
“No sir. They seem to be malfunctioning with my security.” Tony swore under his breath and Steve looked over at him.
“Messing with my machines; destroying my building; hope they enjoy the taste of my fist down their throats,” Tony mumbled and Bruce smirked.
“Can you tell us what floor they’re on, JARVIS?” Natasha asked, briefly looking up before looking ahead again.
“Still on floor 18, agent,” JARVIS replied. Steve’s face twisted in confusion. Why break in to one of the most secure buildings in the world, and just wait? Quickly and quietly they made their way down the stairs to floor 18 and entered the floor on the right wing.
The room was dark and hot and damp and Tony wished he had his suit on so he could see. The faint light from the setting sun sent orange tones on everything and made it impossible to distinguish a stack of soggy boxes from a security beam. Steve turned around, holding his shield to his chest.
“Let’s split up. Clint, Natasha, Bruce; search the perimeter. Tony and I will search the-“
“Cap!” Clint shouted in warning as a figure stood. Natasha threw herself at Steve, tackling him to the ground as an arrow shot into the wall. Natasha rolled over Steve and shot at the lone silhouette darting across the room. They dove behind a stack of boxes but this seemed to be a signal, because at least twenty figures stood and began shooting at the superheroes. Clint jerked the arrow out of the wall and ducked. Tony was about to call his suit to him when he saw Bruce, sitting behind a stack of boxes, hands pressed to his stomach.
Tony’s heart stopped and his stomach fell. He ran to his best friend and put a hand on him. Bruce was breathing heavily through his mouth and Tony put his other hand over Bruce’s on his stomach.
“Bruce?” He asked worriedly. “Bruce what happened?” Bruce looked up at him in silence and Tony pulled Bruce’s hands away and was relieved beyond words that there were no fluids coming out of him.
Tony felt Bruce’s shoulders shake and the relief was short lived. They really could not afford to let the Hulk out today. With only a few enemies to “smash” the Hulk would go on a rampage and Tony had to make sure that didn’t happen. For Bruce’s sake.
“Hey, Bruce. Come one, buddy. Deep breaths. It’s fine. Everyone will be fine. Calm down.” The loud shots of guns being fired really contradicted everything Tony was saying. With the little light from his chest, he saw Bruce squeeze his eyes shut and he gripped Tony’s hand painfully tight.
“Bruce, listen, you’re okay. The team’s okay. We’ll be fine. Just calm down,” Tony said forcefully and Bruce nodded, eyes still clenched closed and Tony’s hand still in a strong grip. Tony looked up, realizing there was no way he would be able to leave Bruce and desperately hoping his team didn’t need him.
He saw Natasha, flipping and spinning her way to victory with deadly blows to the head, neck and chest. Clint was rapidly firing arrows at newly arriving threats, hitting them in the chest before they had the opportunity to fully step onto the floor, causing them to fall backwards to the ground. Steve was blocking bullets with his shield, diving closer and closer until he could take out the nearest enemy. A bullet whizzed pasted Tony’s head and he ducked. Bruce clenched his hand tighter and Tony resisted crying out as he felt his knuckles crack and break.
With absolutely no better idea, Tony pulled his phone out of his pocket, clumsily plugged his headphones into Bruce’s ears and found the most soothing song he had. The sudden noise first made Bruce even tenser, but he began to loosen his grip on Tony’s hand.
Bruce’s shaking slowed to soft tremors and when he opened his eyes Tony grinned.
“Hey there Brucie,” Tony said happily, not that Bruce heard him over the music. Bruce released Tony’s hand with an bashful grin, which fell when he saw Tony grimace.
“Tony?” He asked loudly. Tony reached over and plucked the head phones out and the sound of gunshots returned full force. “What’s wrong?” Bruce sat up straighter and looked his friend over. Tony pulled his right hand to his chest and shook his head.
“Small injury; I’m good,” Tony said light-heartedly. He glanced up and saw that the team was nearly finished and sighed. Villains were too easy to defeat.
“Tasha! Your left!” Clint shouted across the room and Natasha smoothly round-house kicked an approaching man in the face. The assassins smiled to each other. Clint heard a whizzing noise only an arrow made and he spun around and saw an arrow –his arrow- embedded a box near him. He cautiously crawled over to it and bent down to look at it. No, it wasn’t his arrow. Similar, but the craftsmanship was different. Clint reached for it when it exploded in his face.
He flew backwards, slamming his back into a wall. His flesh felt like it was melting off his skull and his eyes burned. He heard only ringing in his ears. Should he hear shouting? Surely Tasha was shouting for him. He threw his hands up to his face and furiously rubbed his eyes. Tears coated his dry eyes and when he blinked them open, he was able to see. Clint thanked every deity he knew of for that one miracle. If he couldn’t see, he wouldn’t be an archer. If he wasn’t an archer, then who was he?
The room was fuzzy and he saw a blurry Natasha running toward him. His heart was pounding in his chest and he tried to stand but he only collapsed again. Natasha kneeled in front of him and he saw her lips move but he only heard ringing.
He tried to hear, or read her lips at least, but his eyes wouldn’t focus. They continuously floated around the room, focusing only for a second before drifting away.
“Clint!” Natasha shouted, trying to get her partner to focus. She’d seen the explosion, heard his body smack into the wall, and she was over to him like lightning. His face was burned, but not horribly. She watched as his eyes flickered around the room, then they stopped. His whole body froze. Clint rubbed his eyes and struggled to stand. Natasha wanted to push him back down but knew it would be futile. Clint was so stubborn, so she simply put out her hand and helped him up. Clint took a clumsy step forward and Natasha followed his line of sight. One of the men was holding a limp form in their hands and was about to propel out of the room. Natasha recognized Steve as the one hanging limply in the man’s arms and made to move forward when Clint grabbed her wrist.
The man looked over and his face was obscured in shadow again but Natasha imagined he was grinning.
“Barney!” Clint shouted louder than Natasha had ever heard him yell before.
“See you late, little brother,” the man said just loud enough to hear over the few remaining gunmen before propelling out. Natasha dashed to the edge and saw the man run to a vehicle parked on the side. Clint jerked forward, moving as fast as he could to the edge and peered over.
“Barney!” He shouted again, but the man was gone.
Hope this answered some questions about what Helgo said. Tell me your thoughts :)
Another mild language warning.
Up-next: drama and slight angst. Enjoy:)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony and Bruce stood in stunned silence before lurching forward. Natasha was holding Clint by the shoulders and was talking to him softly, but Clint didn't seem to hear or care. He kept peering over the edge, shouting a name at the top of his lungs. Natasha's sharp green eyes turned to them as they approached and it would've taken a braver man than Tony to continue walking toward her. Bruce stuttered to a halt beside Tony when Natasha gripped Clint's head in both of her hands.
Tears fell from Clint's eyes and stung where the salty tracks touched the reddened, swollen skin. Natasha gently forced him to look away from the darkened city and to her face.
"Clint," She said firmly, he looked to her and his eyebrows scrunched in confusion. He stared at her and brought his hands to his ears before reaching out to touch her ruby lips.
"Is he alright? Where's Steve?" Bruce asked. He edged closer and stood beside Natasha, looking at Clint's face.
"We need to get him to the infirmary," she said shortly, "and Steve's been taken." She began to walk, leading Clint across the rubble. The adrenaline was wearing off and he didn't want to move. He let his head droop to the side and his eyes drifted shut. His head throbbed and each step sent vibrations of pain up his body.
Tony and Bruce looked to each other in surprise at Natasha's bluntness, although they know it shouldn't surprise them, and hurried to catch up. They were silent as they marched through the floor to the stairs.
"Elevators are in working condition, sir," JARVIS said, breaking the silence and startling Bruce. Natasha glanced to Clint before walking over to the floor's elevator and pushing the button. The doors opened a few minutes later and they stepped in. Tony pushed for the 65th floor and the elevator slowly began its ascend.
Their head-coms buzzed and the Caretaker was on the other end. Natasha informed him of what happened and he said he'd make sure people were ready for them. When he hung up, the elevator fell into silence again.
At the 42nd floor, Clint's legs buckled and he fell to the floor. Natasha knelt and her hands immediately went to his neck and sighed softly when she felt a pulse. As she propped him up into a sitting position against the wall, the other two men felt wildly useless. Natasha took this opportunity to fully inspect her partner for other injuries. The rest of his injuries were mild scratches and bruises; the worst was his face and Natasha couldn't see any way that it wouldn't be scarred. He wouldn't be able to go undercover anymore, if S.H.I.E.L.D. even kept him. He wouldn't be useful for anything other than being an assassin, and they both knew the government had enough assassins.
The elevator doors opened and Bruce knelt down and lifted Clint into his arms. Natasha nodded gratefully and went ahead, Tony assumed to get a bed ready for Clint. The two scientists walked side-by-side and Bruce glanced at Tony. The billionaire was still cradling his swollen hand and Bruce bit the inside of his cheek.
"I did that?" It wasn't really a question. He knows the answer but he wants to know how Tony will respond. The short man shrugged.
"It was an accident." Tony brushed it off as if it was no more than a scratch and Bruce wanted to scream. He knew that Tony's right hand was dominant and he wanted to demand to know what Tony wanted from him. No one put up with him without an ulterior motive. He was only a free man so long as he was useful, so long as he provided something useful.
"Tony," he started hesitantly but the other man shook his head.
"Not now, Bruce." They turned the corner and were instantly swarmed by the staff. Bruce sat Clint down on a nearby bed and backed to the wall. Tony was ushered into a side room for an x-ray and Natasha was pushing her way through medical personnel who were trying to clean the visible cuts on her face and arms. She stood at the slit in the curtain surrounding Clint's bed and crossed her arms.
Minutes later Tony emerged, a red and yellow cast went from his fingers to a little past his wrist but he smiled and waved sloppily when he saw Bruce staring. He walked over and wished he could continue walking and walk out when Natasha turned to them.
"Where were you two?" She demanded, stalking over to them. Tony bristled at her tone and he stiffened his spine, standing taller than normal.
"We were taking care of something," Tony said defensively.
"Taking care of what? I didn't see either of you while we were fighting."
"I was helping Bruce-"
"And the rest of us didn't need help?" She snarled, cutting Tony off. "Steve's gone and Clint was in an explosion." She enunciated and Tony's eyes narrowed.
"Yes, I am well aware of that, but I was busy helping Bruce stay Bruce." Tony raised his head and crossed his arms, daring her to challenge him. Natasha turned and walked back to the curtain, mumbling angrily in Russian.
The doors slammed open and Thor entered. He took in the scene before him with a frown on his face.
"My friends, I returned from Asgard to hear the most dreadful news. I hope everyone is safe. I wish I had been able to help." Thor's voice boomed across the room. He looked at the three Avengers mournfully before confusion flashed across his face.
"Where are our good Captain and Agent Barton?"
"Steve's been taken and Clint's behind the curtain. An arrow exploded in his face," Bruce explained shortly.
"Well what are we doing standing out here? Our friend needs our support." Thor walked forward and threw back the curtain. The nurses looked up sharply and the doctor opened his mouth to order the curtain to be shut but Thor was beside the bed before he even had words formed.
"What happened to his face?" Thor asked softly.
"It was burned, he was in an explosion." Tony said, repeating Bruce.
"Why haven't your healers fixed this?" He demanded, looking at the doctor.
"I'm going to try. There's no guarantee of anything though." The doctor answered patiently.
"So his face will stay as this?"
"Possibly," the doctor answered softly. Natasha shifted but her face was blank.
"This will not do. Summon my brother! He will fix our comrade with ease." Thor smiled and threw out his arms.
"Fear not Black Widow, I will have the Eye of Hawk returned to normal!" Thor turned and swept out of the room. Tony turned to follow and Bruce had only a moment's hesitation to realize he'd rather be with Tony than Natasha at the moment, and followed them up to Loki's floor.
Thor walked to the cell containing Loki and went in. Loki jumped and scrambled back. Fenrir was on the ground and he scurried to hide behind Loki's legs. He barred sharp teeth and his tail curved to his belly.
"Thor, don't. I… I'll beg, if that's what you want." Loki's voice shook and he had his hands splayed out in front of him as a sign of peace, or an empty threat.
"Brother, I am not here for that. Director Fury has yet to speak with me," Loki slowly lowered his hands and stood straighter.
"I require your assistance. Agent Barton was attacked and your magic is needed to heal him."
Loki nearly smiled. If he did this, the mortals would owe him. He could use this opportunity to his advantage. Loki nodded once and reached down and grabbed Fenrir. He squirmed and Loki held him awkwardly. Thor's smile dropped slightly but he let Loki lead out.
When Loki walked out and saw Tony and Bruce, he stopped and his heart raced. He'd been ambushed. Thor had lied. He turned to dart back into the cell but Thor blocked the doorway.
"Worry not, Brother. Your spawn will not be taken from you at this time." Loki forced himself to breath and step past the two Avengers. They herded him to the elevator. The ride was long and tense and Loki was glad to leave. He was taken to a large white room that reeked of disinfectant. The sharp smell was foreign to Fenrir and he sneezed violently. The noise alerted the room to Loki's arrival and he fought a shiver when all the eyes turned to him.
"What the hell is he doing out?" Loki knew without looking that the voice belonged to the Director.
"Sir, Thor believes Loki will be able to heal Clint," Natasha answered swiftly. He looked at her then turned to Loki.
"How do I know you won't harm him further?" Fury asked, crossing his arms.
"You have my word."
"Yeah? Well your word doesn't mean shit. How about you give up the dog- the child- and if you don't harm Clint, you can have him back." Loki's eyes scanned the room, looking for Steve. Steve wouldn't let harm come to his child. To Loki's dismay, Steve wasn't in view.
"Where's-where's the Captain?" he asked, hands shaking.
"Missing?" Loki repeated. What did the mortal mean; missing?
"Yes, as in his current location is unknown. Now, do we have a deal?" Loki swallowed. If he said no, they'd lock him up, talk to Thor and take Fenrir away. If he said yes, they could be lying, using him to help their partner then take Fenrir anyways. If that happens, he could say that he did something bad to the agent, use his knowledge and their stupidity to his advantage. He could use this situation as a bargaining chip; so Loki nodded in agreement. He whimpered something in Fenrir's ear and the wolf whined back but before Loki could reply, unknown agents grabbed Fenrir by the scruff of his neck and took him from Loki's hands.
Fury came towards him and Loki forced himself to stand his ground. The Director reached for Loki's wrists and pulled out a single key from his coat pocket. He unlocked the cuffs and Loki blinked in surprise at the sudden warmth that filled his limbs. He hadn't even known he was cold. A shiver raced down his spine and his magic flowed to his hands and pooled at his finger tips.
"Brother," Thor said, taking Loki by the elbow. "He is in here."
Loki peered around the curtain and saw the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent lying unconscious on the bed. Carefully, Loki walked to Clint's head and held his hand over Clint's face. The Avengers were standing around him, watching his every move.
"This…this will hurt; I want to be clear on that. If he starts to wake up, he will be in excruciating pain. It is nothing I can prevent." When the Director nodded his approval, Loki let his meager supply of magic heal the archer.
Loki murmured ancient healing words that were designed to preserve his magic and a green aura surrounded Clint. Something deep in his chest began to burn but Loki swallowed the feeling down. Clint's body writhed under Loki's spell and a few times he cried out, almost becoming conscious. Loki looked up nervously each time but went back to work when no one seemed to be coming for him.
Loki was nearly done, the agent's face was smooth and the skin tone was even. He was working on the hearing when Clint opened his eyes.
Clint squirmed and reached out to strike Loki but he dodged the attempt. Natasha was instantly at Clint's side, putting her hands on his face and guiding his eyes toward her and away from Loki. When she touched him, Natasha broke the aura and the healing stopped. Her words that were meant to soothe him reached Clint in a muffled, distorted mess.
"He can't hear you. Something happened to his hearing," Loki informed cautiously, aware that he could be blamed for the problem. Natasha's eyes flickered to Loki before turning to Fury.
"We can get hearing aids." It was both a demand and a request and Fury nodded his approval. It felt good to have his magic back and he was hesitant to put the cuffs back on. He walked to the group of Avengers slowly and stopped a few feet away. Fury turned to him and stared.
"What else can your magic do?"
"It would be easier to say what his magic couldn't do," Thor boasted and Loki cringed.
"Yes, I can do many things but the All-Father attempted to rob me of my skill and now it is weakened. I am nowhere near as powerful as I was and fixing your comrade depleted me a great deal," Loki hurried to clarify. The last thing he needed was for them to think he was as strong as the last time he'd faced them.
"Could you find Captain Rogers?" Fury asked and Loki opened his mouth to answer but Thor beat him to it.
"He could. Loki has always been a good finder, even as a child." Loki's eyes widened and he shot a glare at Thor. Was he not allowed to answer himself? And he wasn't their dog; Thor had no idea how hard it was to track a person, especially in the weakened state he was in. The Director seemed to be waiting for his answer, but how could he answer against Thor without seeming a liar?
"I suppose I can make an attempt," he answered carefully. "But it may not work. It is much easier to track magical signatures; people trails get distorted."
"You will try and if we don't find him, we can come back and discuss your situation and leave the search party to the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Loki thought over Fury's words. "If we don't find him we can come back and discuss your situation." Was that a threat? Find the Captain or else? What would happen if he refused? Would they make him? Loki thought about refusing, just to see what would happen, and he would've if it were just about him; if it was just his life on the line, but it wasn't, not this time. His eyes strayed to the room Fenrir was in and he nodded.
"I will need something the Captain used frequently; a pillow or his shield or something of the sort," Loki said quietly.
"That's a no-go on the shield, but I can get you his pillow," Fury responded, motioning for someone to retrieve said pillow. Loki stood in awkward silence while Fury and the Avengers stared at him. His stomach grumbled. He knew he'd need food soon, he wouldn't die but he'd continue to weaken and his magic would lessen, and he couldn't afford that; but no one had offered him anything again and he was not going to beg like some common animal.
"Tell me, what exactly are you going to be doing?" Fury finally spoke.
"I will be tracing the Captain's…presence," Loki's voice trailed off. He knew Fury wanted to know more, wanted to know the details, but Loki could think of no way to explain it simply and to go into details would take much too long.
The agent with the pillow entered the room again and handed the white material to Fury, who handed it to Loki. Loki carefully touched the soft fabric in his hands and his fingers clenched of their own accord. It had been a long time since he'd even touched a pillow, much less slept with one, and now that one was in his grasp, his eyes began to drift closed, regardless of the fact that Fenrir wasn't with him, he was in a room full of enemies, and the pillow wasn't even for him. He forced his eyes open and shook his head sharply.
He had a job to do. He allowed his energy to embrace the pillow, weaving itself in the threads, pulling all essence of Steve out and devouring it. Once the pillow was useless for anything but sleeping, Loki dropped it and pushed his measly supply of energy out; pushing and pushing until it caught the faint trail from Steve and rolled down the path like rainwater on glass. He looked up, gaze slipping between the Avengers and the door beyond them.
"I am prepared to find your missing hero. If you shall release Fenrir, we may go." Fury shifted his weight and blinked slowly. Loki's heart jolted and his eyebrows scrunched, leaving deep wrinkles on his forehead.
"If I let you walk out of this building with him, you'll run. I can't afford to let that happen; so he is going to stay here until we return."
"No. You said he could rejoin me if your archer was unharmed. I did not harm him, I kept my word." Will you keep yours? Loki foolishly hoped the heroes would care about honor and promises and the importance they held but only Thor seemed to recognize the significance of his words and Loki felt defeated when he realized his once-brother wasn't going to say anything.
"I can stay, with the…kid." Loki looked to the man who had said it; the monster hiding behind the man. Loki swallowed thickly as Bruce continued. "I mean, the Other Guy's not really going to be useful in this rescue mission."
Loki opened his mouth to protest whole-heartedly when the Widow spoke up from the archer's side. "I'll be here too." The words were not meant for him, but for Fury.
Loki looked to Thor desperately but the thunder god merely looked away, tightening his grip on his precious hammer and Loki vaguely wondered when he lost Thor's love. And following closely along that train of thought, he wondered why he cared or why he was surprised. Loki turned his gaze to the floor, bitter tears of betrayal filled his eyes and he blinked them away.
Tony saw the plain fear in Loki's eyes and his stomach clenched. He was surprised to find that he felt pity for the fallen god and a part of him, the part Pepper claimed he had all along, wanted to go, take the defeated being into his arms and soothe the pain from behind the glassy eyes. However, seeing as the defeated being was Loki, Tony restrained himself.
"Hey, Fury, why can't he take his kid?" Tony didn't miss the confused look Loki sent his way. The god was studying him and Tony forced himself to remain eye contact with Fury instead of meeting Loki's stare. "We'll be there to keep an eye on him and catch him if he runs off. We always do-"
"Stark." Fury barked shortly and Tony fell silent. "Agent Romanoff and Dr. Banner will watch it-"
"Him," Tony mumbled under his breath. The wolf pup, if Loki was to be believed –and Tony believed him- was Loki's son. A child; a child Fury was using as a bargaining chip.
"Damn it, Stark! He; It; doesn't matter! We're leaving alone and when we return, Loki will be allowed to have him back!"
"That is a child. Not a tool to be used. Would this be an argument if it were human?" Tony argued back. He saw Loki flinch out of the corner of his eye but Tony paid him no mind. It was his damn tower and this wasn't right. As if as one, Natasha stood and the remaining agents moved closer, moving to stand behind Fury. Tony sighed and rolled his eyes, openly showing his displeasure at the situation and at being threatened in his own building. Loki's chest hitched and he fought to keep his emotions under control, but disappointment flooded every fiber of his being. He'd been shocked when the Man of Iron had opened his mouth in his defense and he'd hoped- well; hope never did get him anywhere.
"Loki," Fury said after a moment of staring firmly at Tony. "That is my deal." Deal? Loki thought angrily. That is a requirement because there was no way this was a deal.
"I see no way I can refuse," Loki replied. Fury nodded and Thor reached for Loki's arm. He gripped Loki's elbow tightly and pulled him to the doorway. Tony walked out and to the left, going into a side room where a spare Iron Man suit was. Tony allowed himself to be incased in the hard metal before walking over to join Thor and Loki. Fury murmured something to Natasha before he too walked out. Tony waited impatiently at the elevator doors, sending small glances Loki's way. The god looked defeated; utterly defeated, and Tony couldn't help but feel responsible.
The silver doors finally slid open and Tony stepped in gratefully. Thor pushed Loki in before stepping in after. It was just the three of them and Tony assumed Fury was busy propelling himself down the side of the tower. Had it been under different circumstances Tony would have found the whole scenario humorous, but as it was, Tony could hear Loki's fast, panicked breathing and the quick rise and fall of his narrow chest. Loki's trembling hands clenched and unclenched but when he noticed Tony watching him, he forced his hands still. Tony looked away and willed JARVIS to make the elevator go faster.
When they arrived at the ground floor, Fury and the Caretaker were already waiting for them. Tony's faces scrunched briefly in confusion before shaking his head and making a mental note to ask JARVIS how they got around so fast. Thor released his grip on Loki's arm and Loki's hand twitched as if to rub the spot Thor had been grabbing.
"Are you ready?" Fury asked. Loki looked up and nodded. "Lead the way."
Loki followed the wispy strands of magic out the doors and around the building. He tracked the trail down several alleys, across streets, behind small shops. Thor and Iron Man followed him closely, while Director Fury and the Caretaker followed at a more leisurely pace. Loki tried to focus, tried to pull Steve out of the jumble of New York, but something deep in his chest began to ache he caught the faint pool of essence that was pure Steve before it snapped back like a broken rubber band. A whimper left his throat and his hands flew to his chest, rubbing the suddenly sensitive skin. He felt Thor touched the small of his back worryingly.
"Brother? Is all well?"
"I-Yes, your captain is down here." Loki jerked away from Thor and walked down an ally. He was shoved roughly to the side when a bundle of clothes moved and groaned. Tony knelt down and rolled Steve over. Thor and the Caretaker joined Tony and gently checked to determine if he was stable for movement. Blood was pooled around the Captain and when Thor touched Steve's face his hand came back, sticky with red. Tony had JARVIS run a hasty diagnostics while the Caretaker tried to stop the blood flow. Fury stood beside Loki, watching the scene with one eye.
"Thank you," he tilted his head and Loki's eyes widened in surprise. A scathing reply was on his lips but when he heard the Captain gasp in pain, he sighed.
"You are welcome." Loki said softly. His chest hurt, his lungs hurt, his heart hurt, and it was a strange sensation, as if all the organs in his chest were being compressed together. Loki watched as Thor sat Mjolnir beside him and leaned over Steve, reaching one thick arm under Steve's head and one under his legs, before straightening, holding their fallen comrade in his arms.
Thor said something, and Fury responded, but Loki couldn't force himself to focus. He was completely drained of energy and exhaustion weighed down on his shoulders as heavily as Mjolnir.
"Where did she go?"
Loki's eyes snapped open –when had he closed them?- and he looked to Thor. Thor's hand was open, his fingers forming a half-grab with Steve still held securely in his arms, and it took Loki longer than it should have to realize what was wrong. Mjolnir was nowhere in sight.
"Brother?" Thor took a threatening step toward Loki and Loki fought down the giggles that nearly erupted from his chest. Thor was honestly threatening him, with an unconscious man in his arms, over an object he knows Loki isn't capable of lifting?
"Thor, he didn't touch it. I was watching him the whole time."
"Well then where did she go?"
"Listen, that's not our main concern right now. No one but you can lift it anyhow, so let's get Rogers back to the tower and then in the morning we'll look for your hammer," Fury said shortly. Thor nodded; face solemn in the light of the street lamp and Loki fought the urge to giggle again. Thor saw the brief smirk cross Loki's face and his lips thinned. He started walking toward the tower with Steve nestled safely against Thor's chest. Tony walked over to Loki and gave him a soft nudge. He started walking with a jolt and his hands went to his chest again. The pressure on his organs had begun loosening but Loki could still feel the faint burning deep in his chest.
He staggered his way after his once-brother and several times, Tony reached out to balance him. Each time Loki jerked away and gave the man in the suit a wary look before resuming his stumbling. His eyes drifted in and out of focus and he yearned for Fenrir, for the den, and for one more night of peace.
So, I feel like a lot of people were OOC in this chapter.. Review and tell me your thoughts please, con-crit is greatly appreciated!
Wow, okay, uh, no feedback at all on that last chapter.. Makes me really nervous about this one..
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
As Fury turned away from Natasha, Bruce walked to the supply closet where Fenrir was frantically pawing at the door. Bruce looked around and saw that Natasha had resumed her spot next to Clint. Bruce fiddled with his hands in indecision before taking another step closer to the door.
"Hey, easy buddy," he murmured through the door, resting his hand on the knob. "I'm going to open this door. Okay buddy? Nice and slow."
Bruce turned the knob and opened the door a crack, making soothing hushing noises as the door opened wider. Fenrir hunched to the ground, staring up at Bruce with startling blue eyes, before running to the back of the closet. Bruce looked up and saw that the shelves were nearly ripped off the walls, boxes were torn to shreds and bandaging tape was unraveled and rolled around the room.
"Having fun?" Bruce asked the glowing eyes softly. He squatted in the doorway and put his hand out and clucked with his tongue. He loved animals and he'd had plenty of experience with strays in the past and he was sure he'd earn this animals trust, Loki's child or not.
"Come here boy." Fenrir inched closer, large eyes never straying from Bruce. Bruce rubbed his fingers together and glanced away, making reassuring clicking and humming noises. Fenrir took a few more steps closer, belly scrapping the floor, and touched Bruce's fingers with his nose. Fenrir gave a small lick as his tail thumped against the floor.
"There's a good boy," he said happily, opening his hand, palm up. Fenrir scooted closer and sniffed the new flesh before shoving himself against Bruce's hand. Bruce ran his hand over the massive head, letting his fingers part the thick fur. Fenrir stretched his neck, reaching up and licking the underside of Bruce's chin, bringing a grin to the man's face.
Slowly, as to not startle the pup, Bruce sank to the floor, crossing his legs and leaning against the door frame. Fenrir squirmed onto Bruce's lap and sat his head on Bruce's knee.
"Good boy," Bruce cooed reassuringly, taking Fenrir's head in both hands and massaging the scalp and ears. Fenrir's eyes closed in pleasure and he let out a throaty hum. Bruce cleared his throat and Fenrir cracked an eye open at him.
"Do you –er –want a story?"
He wasn't expecting an answer, he was just asking because what if Loki was telling the truth and this was his child? Bruce could remember his childhood vividly and all his best nights were when his mother would sneak into his room, wipe his eyes and hold him close, telling him fairytales until he fell asleep. He didn't have very much interaction with children, and when he did they had a morbid fascination-type of fear of him, but he liked to think that maybe he could give Loki's son a restful night after a fearful day.
Fenrir seemed to understand his question; he raised his head and his tail thumped hard against his leg.
"Oh, okay. Once upon a time," did stories still start with that? "There was a monster…"
Bruce went on to tell the story of a being who was both monster and man; a being who desperately wanted love and affection, despite knowing he didn't deserve such things because of the monster.
Fenrir fell asleep with the thought of his mother drifting in his head.
* * * * * *
The slam of doors jerked Fenrir out of his warm sleep. Bruce stood and looked around the door. Six men and one small lady dressed in similar armor to Thor's stood in the doorway of the hospital room. Natasha looked over to Bruce and stood, arms crossing over her chest.
"Can I help you?" Her strong voice carried over to the men and they looked over at her. Clint was asleep behind her and she shifted her body so she blocked him from their view.
"We need the Prince's spawn." The middle one answered gruffly. Bruce took a step farther into the room. His movement caught their attention but they quickly looked back to Natasha when she started speaking.
"Yeah, well I'm under strict orders so no one is to touch the kid."
"Your Midgardian orders matter not. By the express command of the King, I order you to release the spawn into our custody."
"Clearly you don't know where you are or who we are. I said that child is not leaving these rooms." One of the men stepped toward her and Bruce stepped toward them.
"Don't think about it," Bruce said loudly and Natasha sent him an annoyed look but Bruce didn't care; the oaf had stopped advancing toward Natasha and had redirected his attention to Bruce.
"We will not harm the Midgardian maiden," the lady answered. Her voice was high and her blonde hair was tied tight to her head. Calmly she reached into the bag she had strung across her chest and pulled out a book. Natasha and Bruce shared equal looks of surprise and caution. Natasha's eyes narrowed on something behind Bruce and he glanced behind him and cursed softly. He'd left the closet door open and Fenrir was slowly creeping out. The man closest to Natasha saw the movement and suddenly Natasha was on him, kicking and punching anywhere she could.
She took him down easily and two more dove into her attack. The three remaining men turned to Bruce and he rolled his shoulders, wishing he could've taken off at least his shirt before letting the carefully controlled anger overwhelm his limbs.
The small Asgardian woman flipped open the book and began a soft-spoken chant. Natasha felt her vision go blurry and her arms grow heavy. Her dance around the two Asgardian men grew slow and sloppy. She thinks she called out as blackness drifted across her sight but the next thing she knew, gentle hands were gripping her arms and she felt a soft, warm pressure against her side and she was gone.
Bruce heard Natasha shout something indistinguishable and the Hulk shoved against his consciousness. The familiar pain cut across his body as his muscles tore and grew, his spine snapped and elongated, and his skin changed like that of a chameleon. His clothes ripped apart as the Hulk roared and Bruce managed to see the Asgardians flinch at the noise before chanting entered his brain.
Suddenly he was cloaked in pain as the Hulk was forcefully pushed back. He cried out and the Hulk shoved back, restarting the transformation; but the chanting grew louder and Bruce collapsed in a tired, naked, human heap on the cold floor. Bruce groaned and gripped his head, rolling onto his knees. The three Asgardians walked past him toward Fenrir, who was cowering on the floor, pressed as close as possible against the wall. Bruce saw them through a haze and he pushed himself up onto shaky legs.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Bruce said. His voice was gravely and soft, not nearly as intimidating as it should've been. One reached down and gripped Fenrir by the scruff of his neck and hoisted him in the air. Fenrir yelped and the other two chuckled.
"Are you going to stop us?"
Bruce could feel the Hulk, pushing and growling and ripping at his consciousness, trying unsuccessfully to get out. Bruce was suddenly doubled over in pain as his head felt like it was being split into two. They walked past him again and Bruce reached out. He wasn't sure what he expected, but feeling a cool somethinghit his hand was a surprise.
With sudden energy he wasn't aware he possessed, Bruce jumped up, hitting and throwing the Asgardians with a force equal to the Hulk.
Within minutes, all seven Asgardians were unconscious on the floor. Bruce's legs finally gave out and he fell heavily to the ground. His eyes drifted closed as Fenrir jumped to him and pressed to his side. Bruce cracked his eyes, taking in the form of the dark wolf-child by his side and the silver hammer in his grip, before surrendering to sleep.
So.. Bruce lifted Mjolnir... What're your thoughts on that?
Oh my, all the reviews for that last chapter.. Thanks for all the lovely reviews! Sorry I ever doubted you guys :P
So here's the next chapter, it's kinda short but it's mostly a filler.
Also: Language Warning
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Bruce wakes up to the feeling of cold hands on his neck. He lurched up, one hand clenched in a fist, the other holding his weapon from earlier. He could hear his heart pounding in his ears and he squinted in the harsh white light of the room.
“Ge’back,” he slurred, reaching to wrap a protective arm around Fenrir, but his eyes widened and he tried to stand when he felt nothing but air at his side. The cold hands were on his arm, pushing his shoulders, forcing him back on the floor. His head spun and he saw a dark shadowy figure standing in front of him.
“Lemme go,” he growled. “You’re not gettin’ the kid.”
Bruce was roughly shaken by his shoulders and he squeezed his eyes shut.
“…uce? Bruce? Bruce!”
And his world was fading into blackness again.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Tony tightened his awkward grip on Bruce as Bruce’s eyes rolled back and his head lulled to the side; the only thing keeping him upright was Tony’s hold on his shoulders. Tony slipped off his jacked and clumsily wrapped it around the scientist, prying Bruce’s hand from the hilt of Mjolnir. He put one arm under Bruce’s legs and one behind his back and lifted him painfully. The weight pressed against Tony’s cast and he bit back a whimper, walking the few paces over to a bed and depositing his best friend on it.
He looked at the bed next to the right of him and watched the medical team search Steve over. To his left, Natasha was laid stiffly against Clint’s side and Tony sighed with relief when he saw the gentle rise and fall of her chest. He didn’t think that the Asgardians would kill them, but he also didn’t think he’d ever feel sympathy for Loki either. Tony pursed his lips and looked for said trickster and saw him backed into a corner, the kid held to his chest, Fury blocking any chance of escape. Tony’s lips thinned and he started toward them.
Tony could see that Loki was clearly panicked; his narrow chest heaved and his eyes darted around. He saw Tony’s advances and what little color he had fled from his face and his knees trembled.
“I-I will not wear those… those manacles!” Tony heard Loki say sharply. He wasn’t close enough to hear Fury’s reply but Loki’s eyes shone brightly with unshed tears by the time Tony stopped next to Fury.
“What’s going on here?” He asked, cocking his hip to one side and folding his arms across his chest.
“I will not wear those manacles that trap my magic. This was too close-“
“You are still a prisoner,” Fury interrupted smoothly.
“I’ve done nothing wrong!” Loki snarled. Tony watched Loki’s chest rise and fall at an unnaturally quick rate before looking at Fury.
“He’s got a point,” he said bluntly and Loki narrowed his eyes on him. Tony shifted his body weight onto the other leg, leaning more in Loki’s direction.
“Damn it Stark, I’m not putting up with your melodramatics. He’s going in the cuffs and no amount of whining will prevent it!”
“Brother, please,” Thor cut in, joining Tony and Fury, having pulled the unconscious Asgardians to the side of the room. “Listen to Director Fury.”
Tony sent Thor an incredulous look as Loki gritted his teeth. “Your pathetic guardians nearly allowed him to be stolen! You can not protect him from Asgard-“
“That is not our intention. Our intention is to find out why you’re here and who the hell attacked my team.”
With his mouth set in a frown, Tony turned so his back was to Loki. He knew it was a huge risk, the God wasn’t exactly in a great mood and they hadn’t really gotten off on the right foot, but Fury was getting out of hand. He could hear Loki’s wheezing breath and Fury sent him a stern look.
“Our intention, Director, as Avengers, is to protect the innocent from danger. As of right now, we only have Loki’s word to go on and from what he’s told us, Asgard is not a safe place for his child.”
Fury raised a hand and pinched the bridge of his nose. Thor was being blessedly silent and Tony continued at a softer volume.
“We can lock him in the cell, and if he tries anything, we can put the cuffs back on him,” Tony met Fury’s look unflinchingly and Fury sighed heavily.
“If you so much as twitch your fingers, I’m slapping your wrists in cuffs. Stark, you better know what you’re getting yourself into. Take him to his cell.” Fury dismissed and walked away. Thor looked overcome with sadness before looking at Tony.
“Friend Stark, you know not what will be coming,” he said mournfully before he too walked away. Tony licked his lips and sighed before turning and looking at Loki warily. The god fixed him with a cold glare and Tony swallowed nervously before forcing a grin on his face.
“Alright. Okay; that went well, don’t you think?” Tony asked, idly rubbing the skin above his cast. “Now, let’s get Cujo, here, off to bed, yes?” Loki’s eyes narrowed at the name and Tony smirked at his own humor before walking towards the doors, praying Loki would follow. After a moment’s hesitation, Tony heard Loki’s light footsteps follow him. He stood facing the elevator; Loki stopped behind him. He was hesitant to step into the elevator but did so after Tony gave him a grin and threw his hands up. Fenrir squirmed in Loki’s arms and he tightened his hold.
“Wouldn’t it be easier to set him down?” Tony asked and Loki’s lips thinned. “If you’re worried about him running off, I’m sure we can find a piece of rope or something that you can use as a leash-“
Suddenly Fenrir was on the floor behind Loki and Loki’s forearm was pressing into Tony’s throat.
“I will not have him be restrained in any manner,” Loki growled. “Is that clear?”
Tony raised his eyebrows and reached up and gently removed Loki’s arm. Loki’s green eyes widened in surprise and Tony gave him a sad, wary smile.
“You’re not very strong today,” Tony commented, pretending to straighten out his white shirt and dust off his suit pants. He glanced up through his lashes and caught Loki staring at his thin hand. Tony leaned against the wall, eyes flickering to Fenrir before looking back at Loki.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you hadn’t had a decent meal in a while-“ Loki’s head snapped up and his eyes threw daggers at him and he knew he needed to shut up, but he wasn’t known for self-control.
“But he,” Tony nodded toward Fenrir, “is in fit shape. So I suppose my question is why haven’t you been eating with him?”
“That is of none of your concern,” Loki snarled, rapidly switching from ‘lost child’ to ‘wild animal’. “And you will do well to remember how to address a god, you worthless, puny mortal!”
“And you will do well to remember that this ‘worthless, puny mortal’ just defended you; just gave you the power to fight for your kid! If you want, we can go right back and I can let Fury bind you in chains,” Tony let his hand hover over the Emergency Stop. He knew he wasn’t playing fair, but he’d had enough of being towered over and being called ‘worthless’. He wasn’t worthless. He wasn’t.
“No!” Loki’s voice was high. His heart raced and he wrung his hands nervously. “No, no, I..I apologize.” He leaned away from Tony, slouching to appear as unthreatening as possible. This tiny mortal was right. Tony controlled Fenrir’s fate and Loki was jeopardizing everything he’s done for them. What was wrong with him? He wasn’t thinking right. He was hungry and tired and magically drained and it was making him slow. He sent Tony a wide eyed look and the mortal swallowed thickly.
Tony felt guilt twist his insides painfully but before he could comment, the elevator came to a stop with a soft ding and Loki rushed out, scooping to keep a hand on the back of Fenrir’s neck. He stepped to the side, allowing Tony to pass him and lead to the cell. Loki walked in obediently and sat in the far corner facing the door.
After watching the broken family, Tony walked to the floor’s kitchen, ensured that it was empty, and then raided the fridge, looking for something that he could give Loki to eat. He discarded nearly all the items in the fridge before finally deciding on an omelet. He was fairly certain he could cook it without burning it, he had been practicing; after all, Pepper did like the occasional breakfast-in-bed-play-hooky-all-day-and-never-leave-the-bedroom days.
Once the meal was successfully cooked, Tony took it to Loki’s cell, but was hesitant to go inside. The god was really quite angry when Tony’d asked about his nutrition in the elevator but his conscience wouldn’t let it go, and being a good guy made it difficult to ignore his conscience. So Tony took a deep breath and opened the door with a grin in place.
Loki’s gaze flickered up to him and he watched as Tony set the plate on the table. His eyes narrowed in on the plate and he gazed at the food hungrily.
“I thought you might like this,” he said sheepishly. Loki stood and looked curiously at the yellow sponge on the plate.
“I expect it’s poisoned?” Loki arched one eyebrow and tried to sent Tony a disdainful look, despite the urge to shove the Midgardian food into his mouth whole.
“No,” Tony answered slowly.
“Drugged, then?” Tony rolled his eyes.
“Listen, if you don’t want it, just throw it away,” Tony responded, sounding annoyed and tired. Loki’s heart raced and he began to panic because he does want it but the mortal is reaching for it and Loki can’t say anything because he shouldn’t want it, shouldn’t be relying on his enemies; but he does and he is and now Tony is touching the edge of the plate-
“Sir?” An English voice sounds in the room and Loki jumps slightly and looks around.
“JARVIS?” Tony responds, plate of yellow sponge forgotten and Loki’s chest loosens minutely.
“Dr. Banner seems to be waking. Was I correct to assume you’d wish to be present?”
“Yes, thank you JARVIS,” Tony addressed the ceiling while turning and walking to the door. He left without the plate. Loki waited a few minutes to be sure he wouldn’t return before cautiously poking it with a finger. It was soft and warm so Loki sloppily lifted it up with his fingers, seeing no other way of eating it since the mortal forgot to leave eating utensils.
He took a tentative bit and his head swam with flavors and for a moment, he was dizzy. It was delicious and he wasted no time in devouring it.
Loki decided it was the tastiest food he’d ever had so far.
Okay, so I really feel like Tony would be the one to continuously stick up for Loki, especially since Fury is being such a jerk about Fenrir. Maybe its the fact that I imagine Tony wished his father wanted him as much as Loki wants Fenrir, maybe its because Tony has a special place of my heart; I don't know.
Also, I've accidentally veered away from Loki's POV and let some others take the spot light, how do you guys feel about that?
Anyone you feel is OOC, please let me know! I don't want to be writing these characters wrong, I love them and want to do it justice.
And one final thing before I go, school has started, so I may not update as fast as I would like (this story will not be abandoned though). Hopefully I'll be able to update on the weekends, so that's just a little heads up.
Hello to all! Here is the next chapter, a little short but I'm so proud of it I decided to update it anyways!
Warning: small cuss words (oh the horror)
: I feel like everyones OOC in this chapter but you'll just have to deal
: Also, shameless Sciencebro fluff
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tony reached the room just as Bruce was waking up. Tony rushed to his side and nervously stared into Bruce’s face, but Bruce stared up at the ceiling unseeingly.
“Bruce?” He asked nervously and Bruce blinked before his brown eyes flickered to Tony.
“Hey Brucie,” Tony said smiling softly. Bruce groaned and raised his hands to his face, covering his eyes and applying pressure to his temples before lurching up, eye wide.
“Tony, the kid. They took the kid!” Oh, God. They took him and Natasha- he’d seen Natasha go down…
“Natasha; where’s Natasha?” He demanded and Tony put his hand on his shoulder. “No, they took her down, Tony. Where is she?”
“Bruce, calm down. Natasha’s fine and so’s Loki’s kid.” Bruce sighed and sagged back down into the mattress. He looked at Tony with tired eyes and Tony found it hard to believe his friend looked so old.
“How’d you do it?” Bruce asked softly, then clarified, “Stop them. I tried to hold out but they…they did something Tony. They pushed the Other Guy back in.”
“What do you mean, they pushed him back in?” Tony sat in the bed-side chair and leaned forward. Bruce turned his head to look at him.
“He was out. I didn’t want him to be, but he heard Natasha scream and I lost control of him.” Tony nodded, that explained the lack of clothes then. “But, then it was like, he was being pulled back…”
“Are you alright?” Tony asked in a rush, brown eyes narrowed with an intensity that startled Bruce.
“I don’t- I… I think so.” Tony stared at Bruce suspiciously.
“You sure?” Bruce swallowed at the raw sincerity in the question and looked away.
“My head hurts a little. Nothing I can’t handle though.” Bruce mumbled quietly but Tony heard and stood.
“Do you need a doctor or something? What am I saying? Of course you do. I’ll be back-“
“No, Tony,” Bruce tried to interrupt but Tony had already disappeared around the curtain. Bruce fiddled with the hospital sheet nervously before forcing himself to be still. He was a grown man, in Stark Tower. Tony wouldn’t let them do anything bad to him, right? Bruce shook his head forcefully –and immediately regretted it. It didn’t matter. He’d escaped worse; but when the doctor stepped through the curtain, Bruce couldn’t help but feel queasy and he couldn’t exactly place the blame entirely on the fear of being tested. His father had done a pretty fine job of instilling a general fear of doctors and authorities figures since Bruce was old enough to remember; the Hulk problem only intensified the feeling.
“Doctor Banner,” the doctor greeted. “I apologize for the wait.” His eyes flickered to Tony ask he slipped through the curtain and sat back down by Bruce’s bed. “Captain Rogers was in a mess when he came in.”
Bruce’s head tilted around to Tony and Tony put a reassuring hand on Bruce’s arm. “He’s fine now; and stop moving your head! For all I know, you could be losing precious brain cells.”
The doctor moved to the bed and Bruce looked up at him with wide eyes before looking away with a litany of ‘I’m fine. I’m safe. I’m an adult’ coursing through his head. The doctor’s cold hands checked the pulse point on his neck, and then shone a light into his eyes. Bruce blinked away the spots of color after the doctor clicked the small flashlight off. He held up one finger in front of Bruce’s face.
“Follow my finger,” he instructed softly and moved his finger in an assortment of patterns, then tapped his nose. “Now look straight ahead. Tell me if you can see my fingers.”
He moved his hands on either side of Bruce’s face and wiggled them. Bruce stared straight in silence for a moment and Tony’s heart began to pound but then Bruce nodded his head in the affirmative and Tony’s chest loosed up. The doctor moved his hands around the edges of Bruce’s vision and Bruce nodded each time he was asked if he saw the moving digits.
“Well we can rule out concussion,” the doctor said, scribbling in Bruce’s file. Suddenly he looked up and gave Bruce a long look as if he’d just remembered something.
“Are you angry, Doctor Banner?” Tony could see the question took Bruce off guard and, to be honest, it surprised him too.
“No,” Bruce answered warily. The doctor came back to the bed and pulled the flashlight out of his pocket. Gently, he guided Bruce’s head back and he flicked the light on, shining it into Bruce’s eyes. The doctor hummed softly and Bruce’s eyes flickered to Tony.
“What?” Tony demanded nervously.
“When I shine the light on you, does it agitate you?” The doctor asked, ignoring Tony’s question.
“No,” Bruce answered again. The doctor nodded thoughtfully and passed the light over Bruce’s eyes for a third time.
“It seems to anger your alter ego,” he said, voice laced with such curiosity it made Bruce’s stomach churn and his heart race. He could feel the Hulk rumble against the back of his skull and he immediately looked down and pulled himself into a better seating position.
“Yes, well, better stop then,” Bruce mumbled. Tony saw the tightness in Bruce’s shoulders and stood.
“Thank you. I think you can leave, unless Natasha or Clint needs you,” Tony said in a strong voice. He ushered the doctor out and Bruce let his head fall back. He looked at the ceiling before closing his eyes and trying to keep his emotions in check. His thoughts kept drifting back to the doctor and he was locked in a dozing nightmare.
He was running and running and then he was in a cage. The cage was shrinking and the Other Guy was scared and he tried to come out but then Bruce was attacked with needles. An assortment of drugs were pumped into him and the Other Guy was silenced.
Bruce screamed as they tied him down and General Ross was standing over him holding a scalpel. The small blade entered his chest and Bruce felt the searing pain and the General was leaning down and whispered into his ear, “I’ll dig through you to find him.” And no! They couldn’t have him! If they took the Hulk away, then he wouldn’t be needed in this little make-shift family he’d found and he needed his little make-shift family!
He thrashed, trying to loosen the ties on his wrists and ankles, to no avail. General Ross put a mock-soothing hand on his shoulder. “If you’ve taken him from me, I’m going to put you in a hole for the rest of your life.”
Suddenly, a warm hand touched his arm and his eyes flew open. He jerked to the other side of the bed, nearly falling off. His legs were trapped under the thin hospital blanket, but the hand tightened around his arm and pulled him back onto the safety of the bed. He looked over in panic and saw Tony staring at him with wide eyes.
He looked around, chest heaving, eyes glinting green, and saw that the curtain had been pulled back, revealing him to the whole room. Fury and Thor were standing at the foot of the bed, Natasha was sitting on the edge of Clint’s and the two were looking at him with cautious eyes, and Steve was bandaged in his bed, in a likely-drug-induced haze.
Bruce brought up a shaky hand and touched his chest and swallowed hard, blinking back relieved tears.
“Bruce?” Tony asked hesitantly.
“Fine,” he rasped out. “I’m fine.” Bruce was surprised at the rawness of his own voice and it must have shown on his face because Fury spoke up.
“You’ve been asleep for a few hours. Stark didn’t want us to wake you.” Fury leaned forward with a small cup of water and Bruce drank it gratefully. He glanced up and could feel the tension in the room. Slowly he lowered the cup from his lips and held it in his lap.
“Friend Bruce,” Thor starts, shuffling his feet nervously, looking around at the rest of the room before continuing. “You wielded Mjolnir.”
Bruce stared in silence before snorting. “Right.”
Thor shuffled nervously and Fury blinked. Bruce’s grin dropped. “Come on. No I didn’t.”
“You almost took me out with it,” Tony voiced with a sniff. Bruce looked to Tony then his gaze landed on each of his team mates. Steve’s face was scrunched in confusion; he was obviously having trouble following the conversation on the medicine he was on. Natasha was watching it all with careful eyes and Clint was watching her face for reactions only he’d be able to see. Thor was still shuffling nervously with his arms crossed in a… pout?
“And she no longer obeys me. She believes me unworthy but what I have done, I know not.”
“No, but, I-I couldn’t have. I-“ I’m just Bruce.
“JARVIS, send the security footage to my phone.” JARVIS complied and a moment later, Tony’s phone beeped with the download. Tony handed him the mobile device and Bruce watched as the intruders started toward Natasha, saw the irritated look he received from her when he directed the attention to him; watched her leap into action like the trained assassin she was, watched as he failed his transformation. He swallowed as he watched himself struggle to stand, embarrassed at how pathetic he looked.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
“Are you going to stop us?” He saw himself collapse and he was starting to hand back the phone.
“See, I lost consciousness-“
“Keep watching,” Tony urged and Bruce let his eyes fall back to the screen. Tony watched Bruce’s eyes widen in shock and Tony smirked, knowing what Bruce was seeing. Bruce watched in amazement as Mjolnir came soaring in from off camera and landed in his palm. His eyes continued to comically grow wider and he looked up in shock.
“That’s what we were going to ask you,” Fury answered.
“I don’t know. This doesn’t happen, Thor is supposed to be the only one worthy to wield Mjolnir.”
“I am just as confused as you Friend Bruce,” Thor admitted loudly and Clint looked away from Natasha’s face to look at the group.
“Why’s he confused?” Clint half-shouted. Natasha caught his eye and mouthed “later” and he nodded, seemingly content.
“We need you to get dressed Doctor. We’re going to run some tests, see why this happened.” Fury put the un-noticed clothes on the foot of Bruce’s bed and walked out. Bruce’s heart rate spiked and his face paled. Tests?
“No,” he squeaked. He was in Stark Tower. He was Tony’s colleague. Tony was his best friend. This isn’t happening. They won’t run tests on him. They can’t.
S.H.I.E.L.D. will not touch Bruce Banner. Hulk won’t let them harm Bruce Banner. The gruff voice echoing in his head was foreign but Bruce found himself responding instinctively.
Yeah? Try and stop them.
Abruptly, both the voice and the Hulk’s savage growling were silenced. Bruce came out of his thoughts at the feeling of Tony’s sharp stare.
Tony had risen to leave, to give Bruce some privacy, when the small, terrified “no” broke through Bruce’s lips and imprinted itself in Tony’s brain. Tony looked back and saw that his friend had drained of all color and was twisting his fingers together nervously.
“Bruce?” He asked softly, but the other man didn’t seem to hear him. Tony stood there staring at Bruce until he snapped out of whatever was happening. Frightened brown eyes met Tony’s and Tony took a step back to the bed.
“They aren’t going to test test you. It’ll be all about Mjolnir. I promise,” Tony swore. Bruce wasn’t being his normal self and that scared Tony to no end. Bruce nodded, eyes darting around the room and Tony was suddenly struck with how childlike his genius friend looked.
“Bruce, look at me,” brown eyes focused on him and a soft, reassuring smile fell on Tony’s lips. “I swear. You’re my best friend, alright. I won’t let anything happen to you.” The words were spoken softly and surprised Tony with the sincerity of them. He’d just willingly handed his heart over to be destroyed, and he had no doubt that it would be, not because of Bruce per se, but because that was his role in life.
He’d tried so hard to get people to stay, to want to stay, but he was never good enough. Not for his father, not for Obie, not for the media; hell even Rhodey, his “best friend”, told him it would be better if they weren’t seen together. The only one so far to stay with him, for him, had been Pepper and even she felt the constant need to flee from him and any extra emotions he caused her.
But here was Bruce; small, angry Bruce who was terrified of being locked up like a monster he thinks he is, and there go all of the walls Tony had tried to build around his fragile heart because the next break, the next chink in his armor will surely kill him, but he doesn’t care. Or maybe he does. Maybe he cares too damn much and that’s why he’s sitting on the edge of Bruce’s bed rubbing soothing circles on the man’s naked back, watching as his friend fights back tears.
“I don’t want them to,” Bruce whispered tearfully and Tony’s heart missed a beat and resumed an erratic patty-pat-pat-patty-pat against his chest.
“Brucie, nothing will happen to you; I swear on everything, on my life, on Pepper’s life, on this company; I will not let ‘em get you.”
He pulled Bruce into a hug then, and Tony rested his chin on top of Bruce’s peppered hair. When he pulled back, Bruce’s eyes were red, but dry and an embarrassed flush covered his cheeks. Tony couldn’t be more relieved to see it and smiled widely.
“Now, get dressed and come see why Mjolnir is throwing a fit.” Bruce smiled softly at Tony and nodded in compliance.
“This ought to be fun,” he heard Tony murmur happily before closing the curtain back and leaving Bruce in privacy.
So, Tony must have a small halo and tug at my heart while I write or something cause doesn't he just seem like the best?! I don't know, I just love him! Alright, this really had no point, so I'll leave you to the reviewing part now (hint hint)
Sorry for the long wait; school is a cruel mistress; you guys leave such beautiful things in that little review box *sigh* I hope this chapter is worthy of you!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Bruce dressed quickly and slipped out from behind the curtain unnoticed. A curtain was pulled around Steve’s bed and when Bruce looked, Clint’s bed was empty. Bruce looked around and saw Tony talking to a sulking Thor and Fury was talking to some agents by the doorway. Bruce hesitantly stepped farther into the room and Tony’s sharp eyes caught the movement. He looked past Thor and smiled, waving Bruce over. As he approached, Tony tapped Thor’s bicep twice and walked around him, stepping happily by Bruce’s side.
“I was just talking with Thor, getting the full understanding of Mjolnir and what happened last time this happened, well, last time Thor couldn’t lift it. Not last time you lifted it… Anyways,” Tony proceeded to fill Bruce in on the situation in New Mexico, with Thor adding in little pieces of information when Tony started telling it wrong.
Fury walked over to the trio as the Tony finished the story and he cleared his throat.
“Doctor Banner, shall we get started?” As if on cue, several agents filed in, rolling in large, beeping machines on carts and Bruce visibly tensed.
“All for Mjolnir,” Tony murmured under his breath and Bruce nodded one sharp nod.
The three Avengers stood in silence as they watched the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents set up a make-shift lab around the hammer.
When they were ready, they beckoned Bruce over and Tony sent him a calming grin before the tests began. Tony leaned against the wall, overlooking the tests with a careful eye, intending to make sure his promise to Bruce is fulfilled.
When Bruce lifted the hammer as easily as if he were lifting a carton of eggs, Thor made a small sound of misery. Tony glanced over at him and felt his stomach clench at the lost look on Thor’s face.
“You okay, buddy?”
“I only wish to know what I have done wrong. I wish my father would have warned me.”
“Can’t you just use the Rainbow Bridge to get to Asgard and ask or something?” Thor shook his head, blonde hair falling in front of his eye.
“Nay, with Mjolnir gone, I have little doubt that the Bifröst is closed to me.”
“Well don’t worry, we’ll figure out what’s happened and Mjolnir will be yours again, yeah?” Tony asked with his ever-present grin in place. Thor seemed unmoved by Tony’s words however and simply looked grimly ahead.
“I hope so, Tony Stark.”
Tony had nothing left to say to that so they stood in silence and watched as Bruce lifted Mjolnir again and again as S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists ran different tests and methods on the little hammer.
“Sir, all the tests are coming back normal.” Fury turned and looked at the scientist who had spoken.
“All of them?”
“Yes sir, it might as well be Thor lifting it for all the tests are showing.”
“This isn’t making sense,” Fury grumbled.
“Director, it is clear my father intends this as a punishment,” Thor spoke up, pacing away from the wall. He twiddled his hands idly while everyone looked at him.
“Friend Banner was deemed worthy, and I have not. This is why your tests fail.”
“Deemed worthy,” Fury repeated softly, turning to look at Bruce. Bruce looked as though he wanted to shuffle his feet under the scrutiny but he resisted the urge and sat Mjolnir down on the ground carefully. Tony could see the weariness in Bruce’s shoulders and knew that Bruce must be exhausted, they’d been at this for –Tony looked at the expensive watch on his arm –nearly three hours.
“Right, well I’m starving. How about we take a lunch break?” Tony stepped forward, grabbing Bruce by the arm and started to lead him away.
“Not everything revolves around you, Stark,” Fury said to their retreating forms.
“My tower,” Tony reminded as he and Bruce left the ward and headed toward the kitchens.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. people began packing up their data at Fury’s okay.
Thor went to visit his brother.
** ** ** ** ** **
Thor looked through the small window on the door and saw Loki slumped in the corner, sound asleep with Fenrir by his side. Thor pressed the buttons to allow the door to unlock and it opened with a soft hiss. He stepped inside and Fenrir’s eyes snapped open but he didn’t move from Loki’s side. Thor froze but Loki didn’t stir so he walked closer. Fenrir’s sharp eyes followed his every movement but he made no motion to get up or alert his mother.
Thor crouched down, hands dangling visibly over his knees.
“Hello nephew,” he breathed, voice barely a whisper. Fenrir simply blinked in response.
Slowly, Thor reached out to stroke Fenrir’s head but his hand seemed to lose direction and was veered to the floor instead. Furrowing his brows in confusion, Thor reached for Fenrir again, hands clenching inches above the pups head before being directed in another direction. Thor tried again for the third time and was knocked off his feet.
Loki’s eyes snapped open and he leaned forward, body covering most of Fenrir, and snarled at Thor. Thor stood and tried to come closer but was prevented by an invisible shield.
“You attempt to take him while I sleep, Odinson?” Loki growled the question and Thor shook his head vehemently.
“No, brother, I only-“
But Loki cut off his explanation, continuing as if Thor never spoke, “You’re attempts shall fail for as surely as I stand here, my son will not be victimized by your brute cruelty.”
“Brother, I only wished to see him,” Thor said defensively, putting his hands up to show his surrender.
“Why?” Loki’s sharp tongue softened and he seemed almost confused.
“Do I need a reason?” Thor lowered his hands slowly and sent Loki a wary grin.
“Yes,” Loki hissed, pulling Fenrir farther behind him. “You always have a reason. You take and take and when I have nothing left to give, then, then you leave me be, but only until I regain something to value. So tell me; why are you here?”
“Brother, we only take what is necessary. Is it our fault you create monsters that intend to only destroy?” Thor’s voice had an edge to it that only Loki could bring out. Why couldn’t his stubborn brother understand? Loki reached behind him and held Fenrir up. The scruff around his neck scrunched around his face making him look much bigger than he was. His long tail hurled up his stomach and his ears lay flat on his head as Loki held him out for Thor to see.
“This? This is a monster? Thor tell me how this is a monster!”
“Loki, we know not who the father is; we know not how large it grows nor how hungry its appetite. We know not if his mother’s influences will make it become a monster you claim it’s not.” Loki froze, face going slack. Slowly, he pulled Fenrir closer to him and his son clumsily pushed his nose in Loki’s chest.
“You punish my sons because of my influence? You know not if they are actual monsters, but I am a monster, so my offspring must be too?”
“Brother I did not mean-“
“You think yourself so far above this monster; you forget that your hands are no cleaner than mine. All my life I only cleaned after you and your pack of warriors and I am repaid with nothing but harsh words and disapproval; and now, when I have been cast out, when I have nothing but this,” Loki’s arms tightened on Fenrir, “you come to mock and threaten. But I’ve had enough Odinson, leave, or let me go, or I shall do something I may regret.”
Loki’s aura lit green and fizzled into a vibrant purple. Thor put his hands up once again and took a step back.
“Leave!” Loki’s chest warmed and it felt like a small flame flickered in his chest and began devouring his insides. Thor stepped out the door and it hissed shut and Loki let his magic rest, the burn in his chest stopping. Loki pulled Fenrir close and thought of everything he’s lost and everything he will lose, and wept.
I'm seriously sorry for the long wait and short (and most likely crummy) chapter! I've only been able to write down little snippets at a time and finally had time to write because I'm sick, so if this chapter isn't up to par, I totally blame the flu.
So tell me what you think! Like it? Love it? Think it could be better? Ooc? In-character? More of anything? Less of anything? Lemme know, I'll see what I can do:)
Thor stood on the other side of the door, watching his younger brother cry through the one way glass on the wall. He ached to go to Loki, wrap his arms around him and take away his immense pain. His arms flexed in response to his wants and Thor shifted his feet. He didn’t understand why Loki as on doing this, creating the beasts. Surely he knows what it did to Thor last time, having to watch as Loki groveled on his knees before their father. Thor watched as Loki lifted his head from the wolf-pups main and they yipped back and forth. He wished Loki wouldn’t do this, get so attached to it. It will make Thor’s job that much harder.
The pup whimpered, raising his long snout to Loki’s chin and licked from the base of his throat to Loki’s nose. A watery smile flashed across Loki’s face and he ran his hands through its hair between its ears. Thor’s lips tightened and he turned, leaving to go back downstairs.
The elevator doors opened and Thor stepped out into the hospital wing, where the agents in charge of the tests were eating and chatting to themselves. Unconsciously, he headed straight for Mjolnir, hand open and outstretched. He seemed to realize what he was doing as he stood over his hammer and he clenched his hand before folding his arms across his chest.
With a quick scan of the room, he saw a small group of agents watching him, mouth half full. He shifted his stance and raised his head, eyeing the small group, daring them to say something. Wisely, they remained silent.
“Where is Doctor Banner?” He finally asked, voice echoing with authority, sounding every bit the Asgardian prince he was.
“Kitchen,” one responded after a moment’s pause. Thor nodded in thanks and walked out. Once alone in the hall, his face crumpled. The combination of loosing Mjolnir and Loki weighted heavily on his chest. In a moment of weakness he looked up to the ceiling, wondering if Heimdall was watching him.
“What did I do?” he murmured, imagining he could see up and past the ceiling, past the blue sky of Midgard, through the Void and up to Heimdall’s post. “Send me guidance.”
“How may I be of assistance, sir?” JARVIS asked sounding slightly confused but eager to help. Thor jumped as the voice echoed down from the ceiling and he forced a smile onto his face.
“Ah, good JARVIS. I had forgotten of your continual watch. I was merely talking to-“ Thor paused and gazed at the ceiling before continuing with an almost hesitant fashion. “Myself. Pay me no heed.”
“Of course, sir. My mistake,” JARVIS replied smoothly before falling silent. Thor stood in the hall for another moment before starting toward the second door, leading into the kitchen. He rounded the corner and saw Tony and Bruce sitting at the table with Pepper standing behind them. Tony’s hand was resting on Bruce’s and Pepper had one hand on Bruce’s shoulder. Thor was hesitant to continue into the room, unwilling to interrupt the private moment, but Tony glanced up and met Thor’s gaze. A grin wormed its way on Tony’s face and he looked much like the business man that covered magazines. He withdrew his hand and rose from his seat, taking his plate and setting it on the counter by the stove.
“Hungry?” He asked, turning and leaning his hip against the counter. Pepper and Bruce both turned to look at him. Pepper smiled warmly at him and Bruce tried for a smile but something was upsetting the scientist and it came out looking more like a grimace.
“Thor,” Pepper greeted happily and he nodded in her direction.
“Lady Pepper,” he returned, voice low and heavy. Then he turned to Tony, “I am in no need of substances at this time. However, I would like to know if Doctor Banner is ready to resume testing?”
Tony’s eyes flickered to Bruce and Bruce closed his eyes for a brief moment and took a deep breath before standing. Pepper looked over to Tony then to Bruce, who was walking toward Thor.
“Sure, sooner we find out what happened, the better,” Bruce said with a soft smile. Pepper opened her mouth as if to protest- after all, what more could they possibly have to test with?- but Tony put a restricting hand on her arm. She bit her bottom lip, worrying it between her teeth and Tony’s thumb began soothing circles on her arm. Bruce looked over his shoulder at them.
“You coming?” He asked, tone hesitant. What if they get in there and he’s caged again? What if they decide that a monster with the most powerful hammer in the entire universe is too big of a liability and they take him away?
Bruce swallowed heavily as his heart pounded against his ribs. He was over thinking. He is an ally of S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s done nothing to prove he needs to be caged. The other guy has been good; he has been good. He’ll be fine. Of course he will be; blush covered his face as he recognized how childish he was acting.
“Yeah, right behind you,” Tony responded and dropped Pepper’s hand. Tony and Pepper shared a look that Bruce didn’t understand before they walked out, leaving Pepper to stare after them.
Pepper watched the three men leave, biting her lip as she did so. Tony had told her about some of the things in Bruce’s file and she felt and uncontrollable maternal pull toward him, despite knowing him for less than a year. There was so much sadness in his life; she only hoped that she and Tony, if not the rest of the Avengers, could help counteract it in his future.
She walked back to the table and lifted the files she’d brought in for Tony and tucked them against her chest. With one hand she touched her hair, making sure everything was in place before starting toward the door.
A pair of boots were standing in the doorway and Pepper jumped, hand going to the small bag on her hip where Tony insisted she carry pepper spray, but as she looked up a smile fell on her lips.
“Natasha,” she said pleasantly. Her hand dropped to her side and Natasha’s eyes caught the motion, calculating how she could stop the potential threat and what she could stop her with, before she blinked and stopped that train of thought. Natasha mimicked Pepper’s smile and stepped into the room.
“Sorry I startled you.”
“Oh, it’s fine,” Pepper chuckled. “Living with Tony has just made me paranoid.” Natasha raised her eyebrow in sympathy, walking over to the cabinets, pulling out two plates and grabbing the loaf of bread. She pulled out enough slices for two sandwiches and went to the refrigerator, pulling out some sandwich meat and laying it on the bread.
“How’s Clint?” Pepper asked softly, watching Natasha make the food expertly. Natasha glanced up.
“He’ll be okay,” she answered shortly and Pepper took a small breath before stepping closer to Natasha.
“How’s he doing now?” Natasha hesitated. It wasn’t her place to tell anyone how poorly Clint was coping.
“Is there anything I can do for either of you?” Pepper continued, seeing Natasha’s pause.
“No, I think he’ll be better once the hearing aid comes in. Fury said it’d be here later this evening. S.H.I.E.L.D. Express,” Natasha said with a smirk. “Thank you though. It-“ Natasha pause sharply and looked back down at the sandwiches. Pepper looked on in confusion, wanting to comfort Natasha but unsure of how.
“It means a lot to us, having people who care.” Natasha stated. Pepper’s face fell in sadness and she struggled to wipe it off her face when Natasha glanced up.
“You can always count on us to care after you two.” Pepper replied softly. She hesitated, longing to physically try to comfort her but knowing it’d be unwelcome, so she turned and walked out of the room.
Natasha watched Pepper leave before a smile crossed her face. She really appreciated the other woman. Pepper seemed to understand, almost better than the others did, the importance of personal space and she never pushed for information, never tried to force her into a different mold than what fits. Not that Pepper would be able to, of course, but it’s the point. It’s the fact that she tried to hide her sadness, her pity, from Natasha. The fact that she wanted to wrap Natasha into a hug, but didn’t. The fact that she tries to trust them, has given them a chance, means more than Natasha was willing to admit.
She finished the lunches and headed back upstairs to Clint’s room. She nudged the door open with her foot and flickered the light switch, warning Clint to her arrival. She’d hate to have the plates drop and waste two decent sandwiches.
Clint was sitting on the dark leather couch staring out the window. He glanced in her direction before letting his eyes lazily focus back on the window.
Natasha walked forward and stopped in front of him. He looked up to her face and she raised her eyebrows, lifting the plates before thrusting one in his direction. He blinked then reached for it and sat it on the inn-table beside him. Natasha gritted her teeth and grabbed the plate and shoved it on his lap.
Clint’s mouth dropped into a frown and he shook his head.
“Not hungry!” He announced loudly. Natasha didn’t bat an eye. For all she showed, he could have whispered the phrase and that’s what made her a good spy; a good partner.
Natasha shifted her weight, cocking her hip out, and blinked.
Oh really? Her body asked for her. Clint nodded sharply, glaring at her, daring her to contradict him. She didn’t need too. His stomach grumbled and Natasha let a triumphant smirk shine on her lips.
“Stop being stubborn,” she said sharply. “Eat.”
He glared at her before grudgingly taking a bite. Her smile softened and she sat next to him, pulling her legs up and tucking them underneath her. She took a bite out of her sandwich and looked out the window, watching him out of the corner of her eye.
His face was sallow, but still the same handsome face she was so familiar with. As much as she hated to think it, she owed Loki a debt. She shifted and nudged his leg with her foot. He looked over at her and her brows furrowed.
Are you okay?
It was a stupid question. Of course he wasn’t and she felt stupid by asking. Clint’s eyes searched her face and he shrugged, raising the sandwich to his mouth and taking another bite. Natasha watched him a moment longer before looking away. She knew she shouldn’t feel pity for him, but he wasn’t making it easy to not feel sorry for him. Losing his hearing, a valuable sense to an assassin, and then to find out his brother was alive and the cause of his hearing lose, well that was enough to throw anyone through a loop.
Natasha remembered listening to Clint talk about Barney. It was only ever a stray sentence or two but Natasha remembered it all. They’d run away together, joined the circus and became hot-shots under the big top. Clint would smile in fond memory as he recalled a joke his older brother had told him or, when he was feeling really sentimental, he’s eat Barney’s favorite food as a meager tribute to the boy who raised him.
Natasha was with him when he found out he went missing. She hadn’t been his partner for very long but she was observant enough to notice something was wrong. She tried not to press him, but when he nearly got himself shot off a roof, she ordered him to focus and he’d broken down. She didn’t know what she was supposed to do. Assassins didn’t just cry. She’d learnt that lesson since she was a child, but here was a grown man, silently weeping into his hand. She squatted next to his position on the floor and tried to avoid looking at him.
When he managed to pull himself together, he mumbled an apology.
“It’s, uh, fine?” She responded unsteadily. It was then that he told her about Barney’s disappearance, about how positive Clint was that his older brother was dead.
And now, all these years later, the man had stood before him, shot at him even, but that didn’t seem to matter to Clint. Natasha thought back to when Loki was in New York the first time and thought she could understand the sentiment.
Clint sat his plate down on the table and the movement drew Natasha out of her thoughts. She hurriedly finished the rest of her own sandwich and reached for Clint’s plate.
“I’ll be back,” she said but her voice still wasn’t loud enough and Clint’s eyes darted to her lips to read what she was saying. He nodded once he recognized her words and she headed back down to the communal kitchen.
No one was in there this time and she sat the dishes in the sink. She wet her hands under the cool tap water and rinsed off the plates. She’d just turned off the sink when she heard a loud crash followed by the sound of breaking glass. She froze, nerves tingling and hearing sharp, before grabbing the hand towel hanging on the oven door and making her way toward the crash.
As she walked she realized how restricting her jeans were and she wished she’d kept her uniform on. She crept down the hall and her hand reached to her hip and pulled out the gun holstered there. With careful, deliberate movements, she walked toward the hospital wing, where she could hear the sound of raised voices.
She readjusted her grip before turning the corner and holding her gun firm. Thor and Bruce seemed to be arguing, Tony’s voice joining in the fray of nonsense when Thor took a breath. She quickly re-holstered her gun and watched the scene with unease. Something wasn’t right and she couldn’t put her finger on it- No, there! Bruce was holding Mjolnir.
Bruce was holding Mjolnir? What on earth had she missed in the last 24 hours?
A breeze filtered through the room and she looked behind Thor where sure enough there was a broken window.
“I don’t even want it!” Bruce growled and Natasha’s attention was snapped back to the group. “Just take it back!”
Bruce tossed the hammer to Thor, who jumped out of the way, missing it by a hair.
“It does not work that way and take care of how you treat her!”
Bruce was breathing heavily and it was clear the junior agents had no idea how to take control of the situation, so Natasha stepped farther into the room.
“Boys!” She said sharply and their attention was immediately drawn to her. “Enough!”
Tony opened his mouth but Natasha shot him a glare. “Not another word. All of you can clean this glass up and behave like adults.”
“But it was Thor-“
“Like adults!” Natasha was pleased to see that they at least had the decency to look abashed. She nodded to the other agents and turned to walk back to the elevator. She heard Tony grumbling behind her and Bruce ask an agent where a broom would be and as the elevator door closed, she could help but think of how well she controlled her boys.
I am so terribly sorry for the month long wait! I hope this chapter made up for it!
And as always, thanks to everyone who reviewed/gave Kudos/read and enjoyed!
Here it is! Sorry about the long waits! Hope this doesn’t disappoint! Also: Thanks to everyone who reviewed/kudo-ed/read-and-enjoyed!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When the elevator doors opened, Natasha headed straight for Clint’s door. Her hand was on the brass handle when she heard raised voices from the room on the other side. She was tempted to listen in, but respected Clint enough not to so she quietly released the handle and turned to her own door across the hall. She honestly meant to keep walking when she heard Clint’s voice filter through the door, but her name was being brought into the conversation and her body froze of its own accord and she leaned back toward the door, listening.
“-hell, Natasha should’ve known better!”
“Barton!” The second voice said sharply and Natasha immediately identified it as Fury’s. “We were doing what we needed to.”
“No, you sacrificed me to the enemy!”
“We didn’t sacrifice you,” Fury responded calmly. “We were watching him the whole time-“
“Oh, that’s reassuring,” Clint said with bitter sarcasm. “Because Loki has never tried to trick us before.”
“We did what was needed to keep you alive and in business. Agent Romanoff never would have agreed if she felt your life was threatened, and you know that.” Fury’s voice was stern and that seemed to quell Clint’s temper. She heard a soft shuffling and then Fury’s voice was much closer to the door.
“Those are for you.”
Natasha darted across the hall and into her room, closing her door just as Fury was opening Clint’s. She watched out the peep hole as Fury closed Clint’s door then scrutinized hers.
“Romanoff,” he greeted with a nod. She said nothing back in hopes she could salvage some degree of dignity at being caught. Fury smiled in amusement and walked to the elevator.
“Don’t make this a habit,” he warned before stepping into the elevator. Natasha cursed softly and waited to be positive he was gone before heading back over to Clint’s.
The room was a mess, the couch pillows were strewn around the room, a lamp was laying on its side on the floor, thankfully not broken, and a knife was embedded into the all near the ceiling, no doubt Clint where threw it in annoyance.
Said man was perched on the couch with his knees drawn closely to his chest and his hands wrapped around his legs, glaring furiously straight ahead. She walked over to the couch and sat on the other end. His head whipped toward her and his icy gaze softened minutely. Her eyes flickered around the room again and narrowed in on a small box resting on the coffee table. She reached for it, holding it in her hand and fiddled with it. Something inside rattled as she turned it in her hands and she opened the lid to reveal two tan hearing aids. Beside her, Clint scoffed and shook his head in annoyance.
“Hearing aids,” he said in disbelief. “Can you believe this? Do you know how much shit Tony will give me?”
Natasha knew Tony would keep his mouth shut if he knew what was good for him. She lifted one of the aids and raised it toward Clint. When he didn’t move away she took it as a signal to go ahead and attach it to his ear, turning it on with a gentle flick. She reached in the box and picked up the second one with her left hand and gently guided his face so she could reach his other ear with her right.
Once the second was attached she clicked it on and Clint immediately recoiled, flinching into the couch and raising both hands up to pull at his ears. Natasha froze and watched as he jerked the aids out and flung them on the floor and began rubbing furiously at his ears while glaring at the ear pieces on the floor.
“What?” She asked quickly.
“There’s negative feed!”
Natasha reached down and picked up the hearing aids and brought them to her own ears hesitantly. She didn’t hear anything and held them out for Clint to take.
“Well it’s gone now,” she said as he took them from her and delicately put them back in his ears.
“Do they work okay?” she asked softly and he nodded. In truth, they worked nearly as good as his hearing was but how was he supposed to work effectively in these? Did they expect the bad guys to give him leeway because of it? He smiled bitterly as he imagined a super villain giving him a time-out so he could adjust his hearing before finishing a battle.
Natasha’s brows furrowed for the briefest of moments at Clint’s smirk before letting her face go smoothly blank.
“Do they look as ridiculous as they feel?” He asked, turning his head a fraction and looking at her out of the corner of his wide eyes. She tightened her lips while she scanned his face, her eyes flickering from his ears, to his eyes, to his ears, to his sour smirk, to his eyes again.
“No, they’re… they’re barely noticeable.” Which was almost true; the pieces bulged slightly and were a few shades lighter than his skin tone but they could look worse, she reasoned. Her eyes danced across his face again before allowing a soft smile to fall on her lips.
“Right. Has anyone told you what a bad liar you are?” Her grin grew and his turned softer.
“Agents, there seems to be a situation in the entertainment room that you might like to be in attendance for,” JARVIS’ electric voice sounded from above their heads. They were up and at the door before JARVIS had even finished speaking.
“Thanks JARVIS,” Clint said briefly as he slipped his arrows onto his back and Natasha checked her hip holster and her wrists for her weapons. Together they stealthily made their way upstairs and into the entertainment room as JARVIS had said. They paused in the doorway, assessing the room, before walking inside with identical strides.
Fury was standing in the center of the room, with Thor and Steve by his side. Tony was standing near the edge of the couch arm, using not only his hands, but his whole body to emphasis whatever it was that he was saying and Bruce was angled toward Tony. Loki, who seemed to always be the cause of some problem or another, was in the empty space behind the couch and in front of the window.
Natasha slipped up and stood between Fury and Thor and Clint took Fury’s other side between Steve.
The super-soldier was looking much healthier than the last time either assassin had seen him. His bruises were nonexistent and his cuts were nearly healed completely. Natasha can’t help but think of how good the serum would’ve been for the army.
Fury glanced at them before turning a hard glare on Tony. Natasha cleared her throat before Fury actually managed to incinerate Tony with his mind alone.
“Sir?” She questioned softly. “What’s going on?”
“Thor has just informed me that Loki was indeed lying, and he’s about to be deported to Asgard.” Natasha nodded in affirmation before looking quizzically at Tony and Bruce, but it was Loki who her gaze finally landed on.
“But I am not,” Loki protested. His son was still in his arms and she began to wonder if Loki let it walk anywhere.
“Loki please,” Thor said desperately, “End this and let me take you home.”
“That is not my home! I am not lying! I know not how to prove it to you but I speak the truth on this matter!”
“Brother, you must return to Asgard.”
“Why?” Loki demanded wildly. “Odin casted me out, I fell here. I lived for months without any trouble.” That statement got him several odd looks. Ah yes, see how tame I’ve become, little Midgardians, he thought. He took this moment of silence, this metaphorical high-ground, to continue with his plea.
“If you allow me to stay here with my son, I will allow you to use my magic to help you in ways that Midgard technology can not.”
“I don’t have time to deal with this. You tried to take over the world, you destroyed an entire city. You are being sent back to Asgard and if I so much as see your face on Earth again, I will not hesitate to terminate the threat.”
Loki shifted, as if to take a step back but caught himself. “Fine,” he voiced softly.
“Fine, I will go to Asgard. I-I shall not step another foot on Midgard; but, but please, allow Fenrir to remain here.”
Fury gave one sharp headshake. “No.”
Loki’s heart began to race and it was hard to get air into his lungs. This was his last chance and his window was quickly closing. It would be only minutes until they took Fenrir away from him and Loki felt his magic twitch through his body. He desperately needed it to respond but his reserves were severely drained from healing their heroes. He was about to resort to begging, dignity be damned if it saved Fenrir from a fate like Sleipnir’s, when Bruce spoke up quietly.
“Director, something doesn’t seem right about this.”
Fury closed his eye in exasperation. “What, having to fight with Stark isn’t enough?” Steve gave Bruce a soft shake of his head, a clear indicator that he thought Bruce should keep his mouth shut but Tony had started to wear off on him and so he pretended not to see the warning.
“It’s just,” Bruce went on as if Fury had responded positively. “This isn’t the Loki from New York. Before, he was sulking because he lost, but now, he’s afraid.”
Loki wanted to ask if they knew he was still in the room, but decided against any sarcastic remark when someone was fighting on his side.
“And the only thing that’s changed,” Tony went on, continuing Bruce’s train of thought. “Is his kid; Fury, you need to ask yourself why he is suddenly so fearful of Asgard.”
Tony paused, hoping for dramatic effect, but it was broken by a high-pitched whine from behind him. He glanced over and saw Loki shushing Fenrir while looking with wide eyes at Fury. Tony slowly looked back to Fury and suddenly abandoned his plan and ran with a new one.
“What Thor said may be true; Loki may have a child that’s to be the destroyer of Asgard or whatever, but this child, Fury, this one is innocent.”
He gestured to the broken family and gave Fury his most honest look.
“Are we really going to do this, Nick?”
Fury sighed and his dark eye flickered to Loki then back to Tony.
“Yes, we are going to do this. He put my people in jeopardy. He killed people; Coulson. Have you all forgotten about that?” He demanded harshly. “He doesn’t deserve our mercy.”
The room fell silent. Loki’s chest heaved as the Avengers looked at each other significantly. He wondered if it would be acceptable to apologize now, or if it would just make things worse. To be honest, he was a little remorseful. The death of their agent was completely unnecessary, but at the time, all that mattered was that he was protecting Thor; that everyone was on Thor’s side and who did he have but the pathetic Chitauri? One less Thor-supporter, the better.
Fenrir squirmed and Loki was brought to the present. Agent Barton and the Widow seemed to be sharing a look that no one understood besides themselves; Tony Stark’s face fell and he stared blankly at his grease-stained fingernails. The super-soldier and beast seemed not to have any feelings toward the dead agent, but they clearly felt sympathy toward their teammates. Fenrir whimpered into his neck again and Loki’s eyes widened. He looked up and shifted his weight, opening his mouth to speak when Fury turned a sharp eye on him and his words were no longer necessary as a warmth soaked through his shirt down his front.
Loki looked down to Fenrir and then to Fury. Loki found that all the eyes were on him and he narrowed his eyes, daring them to say something. Fury broke the silence with a loud, suffering sigh.
“Stark, take him to get cleaned up. He can stay until the behavior of the… child… is determined.” Thor looked pained as Fury said the order and he opened his mouth to protest but Fury continued before Thor could voice his disapproval. “Romanoff, Barton, with me.” He turned and the agents filed out behind him. Thor looked on at his friends, brow scrunched with worry. Thor took a small step toward Tony but when he did, Loki mirrored the movement and backed up a step.
“Loki,” Thor said softly before blinking and looking at Tony. “Please remember my warning, Friend Stark.”
“Yeah, it’s been noted,” he replied shortly and Thor’s face fell and Tony reminded himself that Thor wasn’t the enemy and so he added, “thanks buddy,” and patted his massive bicep with a smile before turning toward Loki. The dark prince was standing defensively, legs spread in an obvious power-stance, but the image was shattered with the dark spot of urine coating his shirt. Tony gestured toward the door with his head and held out a hand toward the door, giving Loki a mock bow.
“You comin’ Bruce?” he asked, glancing up through his eyelashes. With a sniff of distain, Loki walked past Tony- who immediately bowed his head and smirked at the ground- and paused at the door. Bruce gave Tony a disapproving look but his eyes sparked in amusement as he, too, walked past the bowed Tony.
“You really should update your will if you keep stunts like that up,” he mumbled under his breath before leading Loki out the door and to his cell.
He walked in and sat Fenrir down in the farthest corner before standing in front of him. He eyed the two Avengers before him and shifted his feet before raising his chin and meeting their eyes. “I would ask that this garment be cleaned.”
Tony looked over to Bruce and raised an eyebrow. Bruce met his gaze and shrugged his shoulders with a slight tilt of his head and Tony looked back to Loki. “Come on, you can shower while your shirt’s cleaned.”
Loki’s eyes narrowed and he contemplated the offer. The possibility of having an actual shower, with soap and warm water if he played his cards right, was extremely tempting. He tried to see some ulterior motive but saw none and he tipped his head slightly.
“Thank you,” he knelt down to Fenrir’s side and readied himself to lift his weighty child when Tony stepped forward with an apologetic wince.
“It’d probably be better to leave him here.”
And there it was, the ulterior motive. Loki’s eyes narrowed and he tightened his grip on Fenrir’s fur.
“For safety reasons,” the mortal continued quickly. “This room will be secured, no one will take him. It’ll be easier and essentially safer for him. That’s what you want isn’t it?”
Loki glowered for a minute before turning to his confused son. He gave Fenrir a soft smile and ran a hand over his head and gently squeezed his ear in a tender fist.
“Mama’s going to get clean,” he whimpered to Fenrir. “I promise I’ll be back soon, okay? Will you be a big boy for me and wait here?”
Fenrir blinked up nervously at him. “I wanna go home Mama.”
Loki felt his chest constrict painfully. “I know you do; but we can’t right now. You have to be a brave boy for me. It’ll be just like at home. You’ll stay here, safe and sound, and then when I get back I can tell you a tale. How does that sound?”
Fenrir pressed his body against his thigh. “I won’t have to go back in that small room, will I?” he asked softly.
“No,” Loki barked. “Never again. You shall stay here in this room until I return. If they so much as touch you, I shall make them regret ever doing so.”
“And you promise to come back?”
“With my whole heart.”
Fenrir tucked his tail tightly against his belly and lowered himself on the ground and gave Loki’s fingers a quick lick before Loki stood.
“No one is to touch him. If anything happens to him while I am away,” Loki let his icy stance stand in for the rest of the threat. Tony and Bruce shared another look before Tony nodded.
“Right, sure. No one will even be here. Alright? Bruce’ll even guard the door,” Bruce shot Tony a surprised look and sighed at Tony’s unhelpful smirk.
“And that’s supposed to be reassuring?” Loki snarled.
“Well, I didn’t let the Asgardians take him, did I?” Bruce snapped back with a raised brow. Loki didn’t grace that with a reply but glanced at Tony.
“Right this way,” Tony said with a smirk. His whole aura screamed in amusement as he led Loki away to a miscellaneous showering room. Bruce looked into the room, at the small animal cowering in the corner and immediately knelt down.
Fenrir tensed when Bruce moved and he eyed the stranger carefully before catching a whiff of his scent. This was the same man that he stayed with the last time Mama went away. His body loosened and his tail tapped on the floor slowly. The man’s face scrunched up and showed his teeth and Fenrir crouched a little lower before remembering seeing Mama make a face like that when he’d been good and so Fenrir inched forward.
“Hey there, Buddy,” the stranger said softly and Fenrir liked the sound of the man and so he crept closer.
“Hello,” Fenrir replied softly.
“It’s alright,” he held out his fingers and made a clucking noise. “I won’t hurt you.”
Fenrir paused, wanting to believe that this kind man who had touched him before was telling the truth, but Mama had made it very clear that these strangers weren’t to be trusted. He let out a whine at the thought of his mother’s absence and turned, scuttling back to the corner.
The man’s face twisted again and shifted, setting his rump on the ground and scooting into the room. He thrummed his fingers against the floor and moved his paw- no his hand. Mama said they have hands- around in a circle.
With his curiosity peeked, Fenrir raised his head, trying to better see what the man was doing. Fenrir could feel the man’s eyes on him but he had to know why the man was tapping the ground, so he cautiously made his way over to the man. As Fenrir got closer, the man’s hand would freeze and then resume tapping and circling at a quicker rate than before.
Once Fenrir was within jumping distance, he crouched with his rump in the air as tension coiled itself in his legs, and then as the hand stilled again, he pounced. With one paw, he pinned the wrist and with the other he pushed on the man’s knee. The fingers began wiggling again and he plopped down and bit into the fingers softly, just like Mama taught him. Mama had told him of how sharp his teeth were and how, unless he wanted to hurt- which was never a nice thing to do- then he needed to play softer and be gentle.
He tried to keep this in mind as the fingers wiggled inside his mouth but the sensation was not of that he’d ever felt before so he chewed, trying to get the fingers to be still. The man yelped and jerked his hand away and Fenrir hunched his shoulders.
“I’m sorry,” Fenrir whimpered and glanced up at the man sorrowfully. The man wiped the saliva off his fingers and onto his jeans and rubbed Fenrir behind his ears.
“You’ve got some sharp teeth, huh? You’re a strong little hunter,” the man said calmly and Fenrir twisted his head and licked the wounded fingers. This brought out the same toothy look as before and Fenrir wagged his tail happily.
Before Fenrir realized what was happening, the man had rubbed a hand over his head roughly and nudged his side playfully. Fenrir’s eyes lit in excitement as the man playfully shoved his other side. Fenrir jumped back and lunged forward and the man blocked him with a forearm to his chest. The man was moving, going from his rump to his knees and Fenrir darted around him to bite the bottom of his pant leg.
Fenrir let out a growl and shook the pant leg as hard as he good. The man chuckled and nudged him away. Fenrir ducked under his arm and put his paws on the man’s shoulders and shoved with all the force he had.
The man fell to the ground on his back and a surprised gasp escaped his lips. Fenrir wasted no time in situating himself above the stranger and licked at his neck, just like Mama had showed him to do. The man laughed and nudged Fenrir off him. Fenrir bounced back, preparing for the man to get up and to start wrestling again, but instead, the man continued to lie on the floor, looking up blankly at the roof.
Fenrir cautiously moved toward him, prepared to get out of reach if this was a trick, but the man paid him no mind. Fenrir nudged his arm, wondering if he’d broken the stranger. He was reassured, however, when the man reached down and rubbed his head. It wasn’t a head rub like before and the man still didn’t get up, so Fenrir curled himself up against the man’s side and rested his nose on the man’s chest.
He felt the gentle rise and fall of the man underneath of him and thought of how easy it was to defeat the man in wrestling and he wondered if maybe Mama had gotten it wrong when he said they weren’t safe.
* * * * * * *
The door buzzed open and Bruce shot up, knocking Fenrir’s head off his chest. His heart pounded in his chest as he saw Loki enter the room with Tony standing in the doorway. Fenrir jumped up and ran to Loki. He yipped and nudged his head on Loki’s legs and the god glanced down before turning an icy glare on Bruce.
“What are you doing?” he snarled and Bruce stood, hands up to show he meant no harm.
“We were just playing around, Loki. I didn’t hurt him.” Bruce said calmly. Loki stood in the doorway with his arms crossed and his hair slicked back and there was little Bruce could do for escape. Loki continued to stare at him until Fenrir bit into his pant leg and gave it a small jerk. Loki glanced down, then knelt next to his son, keeping his eyes on Bruce the entire time. Once Loki knelt down, Bruce could see Tony give him a worried ‘What the hell are you doing?’ look and Bruce could only respond with a shrug of his shoulders.
Fenrir was yipping and barking and prancing around Loki and Loki stood. He gave Bruce a hard look-over and walked away from the door. Once Loki was away from the entrance, Bruce immediately went for the doorway and stepped out into the relative safety of the hall. Tony reached over to shut the door and as he did so, Loki finally spoke up.
“Thank you, Doctor Banner.”
Bruce nodded in recognition with wide, surprised eyes as the door was shut and locked.
AN: Okay, so a little Fenrir fluff, a little Clint angst.. How’d you like it? How’s the characterization? Please review and tell me what you think!
Here's the next chapter- well, part one of the next chapter. Its quite short but I felt I should upload something since it's been awhile (Sorry about that by the way). Right, well, here it is, review and let me know what you think
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Oh man Bruce; I thought he was going to destroy you. I swear I thought I was going to have to scrape you off the cell walls. What were you even doing?” Tony asked looking over at Bruce. Bruce matched his friend’s pace and rolled his eyes.
“I think you’re being a bit melodramatic-“
“He wasn’t even looking at me and I felt the glare!”
Bruce tilted his head in Tony’s direction and raised his eyebrows. Tony’s mouth opened in mock-hurt and he raised his un-casted hand to his chest with a soft gasp.
“I was genuinely concerned for your wellbeing, Bruce!” Tony’s voice was high and exaggerate and Bruce shook his head, looking away with a chuckle. Bruce reached for the button to call the elevator but Tony bumped into him with his shoulder, knocking him away from the button. Tony pressed it and sent a playful smirk over his shoulder. Bruce smiled back as his heart beat a little faster than normal. The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. The two geniuses stepped inside, Tony began rambling about Clint’s earpiece while Bruce was committing the feeling of friendship to memory.
When they reached the floor with the “commons”, they exited to find that the rest of the team had already assembled in the living room; Clint and Thor were sharing the couch, Natasha was perched in the armchair and Steve was standing by the door. All eyes flickered to them as they entered and Tony paused in the doorway. Bruce looked over at his friend but continued into the room and sat in the unoccupied chair near the couch. When Bruce looked up, Tony was still standing in the doorway with a smirk.
“Is this an intervention?”
Steve rolled his eyes and shifted his weight. “Does everything have to be about you?”
“Well, to be fair, most things are,” Tony said and stepped into the room. He leaned against the arm of the couch. “Alright Cap, now that we’re all here, want to tell me why I’m at another meeting?”
“It’s about the attack. We don’t know when he’ll strike again but we need to be prepared for it. We need to know all that we can about him,” Steve met Clint’s gaze and Clint nodded before looking away again. “And we’re going to have to learn how to fight and make accommodations due to Clint’s hearing-“
“My hearing won’t affect my shooting,” Clint interrupted tensely.
“Yeah, relax, I made those for S.H.I.E.L.D., they work better than his old hearing.” Tony boasted in Clint’s defense. Steve gave them both an exasperated look.
“Regardless of who made them,” Steve continued, “they will take time to get used to; time that we don’t have. So we will have to make sure you stay far enough away that you won’t be in risk of being snuck up on,” Clint opened his mouth to protest and Natasha leaned forward to argue his case when Steve put a hand up, silencing them.
“I know that possibility is unlikely, but we have to be safe. This is your brother we’re going up against, Clint. He’s targeting you specifically. You know we’d all have your back but the last time we were way out manned and only won by sheer luck, we aren’t going to have the time to watch out for each other as well as I’d like, so we have to know who we’re fighting so we can train to cover our own, understood?”
The room was silent and Steve looked at each member individually until they nodded their agreement.
“Okay, good. Now Clint, tell us everything we need to know about your brother.”
I hope you all have a fantastic new year!