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By Any Other Name

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Fucking Asgard.

Fucking magic.

Fucking green-wearing megalomaniacal douche-nozzles.

The baddie-of-the-day was a blonde in a skin-tight getup that made Clint wonder whether she was using magic to keep her ample assets secured or adhesive, because that sure as hell wasn’t happening on its own.

The bitch had popped up in Queens and by all reports had immediately started causing trouble. Agents on site had been able to confirm that most of the initial sightings of fantastic monsters had been illusions. The Avengers had already been en-route by then, and “most” was noticeably not “all.”

Iron Man was already engaging what Clint thought was a chimera when he touched the quinjet down with the rest of them.

“Have I mentioned I hate magic?” Stark’s voice came down their line as he finished blasting a hole through the lion-scorpion thing’s chest. The beast flopped over, sizzled and dissolved into a green mist. “Because I hate magic.”

The woman laughed gleefully, leaning against her knees to stare down at them. She was about twenty feet off the ground; not standing on a damn thing, just levitating there smugly.

“Tell me, pretty little mortals, where is Thor?”

“Ma’am, Thor is in Asgard,” Steve called up after a pause, no doubt weighing the pros and cons of divulging that.

She scowled down.

“Liar. Liar. I’ve seen him with you.” She sent a blast of green energy towards him that Steve deflected with his shield.

“Banner, we might need you to suit up here in a minute,” Steve said.

“A lot of civilians still in the area,” Bruce pointed out.

Widow and Iron Man were fighting something that bore more than a passing resemblance to a saber-toothed tiger. Steve was in the square below the woman, keeping her attention and dodging the blasts of energy she kept sending his way. Banner was in the quinjet, running an analysis of her magic and Clint was sat perched on top of a nearby church, picking off the smaller monsters she’d conjured. SHEILD had advised on a diplomatic resolution if at all possible, which was the only reason Clint hadn't shot her in the eye the moment they touched down.

“Enough of this,” The woman snapped, and tendrils of green light wrapped around Steve, shield and all, and threw him into a wall hard enough to crack the bricks.

“Tell me where Thor is now, or I’ll-”

Clint mentally declared diplomacy nonviable, and shot.

She spun and caught the arrow before it could bury itself in the back of her skull. She smirked at him over her shoulder, and Clint had to wonder if they practiced that on Asgard.

She looked at him, then blinked and dropped the arrow in surprise.

...which was unfortunate, as that meant it detonated at her feet rather than next to her face.

She rocked forward, tumbling and losing control of whatever was letting her hover there, and hit the ground hard.

Steve rushed forward but she waved a hand and he froze on the spot. She hadn’t looked away from Clint for a moment.

“Oh damn,” He said into the comms.

“Barton?” Natasha grunted, and Clint could hear her weapon discharging.

“You,” The woman hissed, and immediately, without visibly moving, she was in front of him.

“Fuck!” He barked.

She ripped the bow from his hands and flung it to the street. She blocked the knife he whipped out to stab her, and then her hands were on his neck, lifting him and bodily slamming him against the wall.

“Didn’t you learn last time, boy?” She pulled him up and slammed him back hard enough that Clint was momentarily stunned.

“What last time?” He grunted, scrabbling at her hands.

Iron Man appeared behind her. Clint kept his eyes on her, not giving his position away.

She flung a hand back and Tony dropped in a cloud of green fog, thankfully hitting the roof rather than the street.

“Playing coy doesn’t suit you. I’m sure your lovely sister did not find me so forgettable.”

“Lady, what the fuck are you talking about?” He spat, channeling his fear into anger.

She pressed into his space, laying her stomach flat against his groin, her breasts against his armor.

She smelled like apples.

Of course she did.

Her fingernails dug firmly into his neck and her eyes bore into his, the green of them glittering with power in an uncomfortably similar fashion to Loki's.

She stared hard, not moving, and Clint felt an itching, slimy sensation in his brain, an invasion that wasn’t physical. 

He panicked, terrified, but the blue haze of possession didn't come over him.  It was uncomfortable but when she loosened her grip, Clint was still himself.

He took a shaky, relieved breath, heart still pounding.  She hadn't loosened her grip enough for him to get free, but he'd take 'not mind controlled' as a damn good starting point.

“Truly? Oh,” She laughed, “Oh, oh, oh, this is too good, this is much too good. I could not have crafted a more perfect vessel.” She smirked in sadistic pleasure and Clint thrashed to free himself, not at all liking the look she gave him.

“Say goodbye, boy.”

Clint felt a squeezing in his mind, a pressure that made him scream, made his eyes roll back in his head.

It lasted an excruciating length of time, and then everything fell away to darkness.






“-up, c’mon, move your ass.”

A hand on his shoulder, shaking him.

Clint snapped back to full alertness immediately, grabbing the person shaking him by the upper arm and spinning to pin them to the ground.

The person – the woman – rolled with the impact, springing out of his grip with a fluidity he associated with Natasha and no one else.

This wasn’t Natasha.

She crouched out of his range, head tilted in fond concern.

“Bad dreams?” She asked.

She was beautiful. Pale, with dark hair and dark eyes and a fondness for form-fitting leather.

“What?” His throat was so dry it hurt. His head throbbed with pain.

He glanced around.

“Where the fuck am I?” He barked. “And who are you?”

Was this a goddamned cave?

“Hansel?” She frowned, reaching out a hand to his face.

He batted it away sharply, too on edge to be touched.

There was a sound from behind him, deep and displeased, that made Clint think of a bear. He turned his head warily, not wanting to look away from the girl but not wanting to leave whatever could make a sound like that unassessed.

The… thing, met his eyes and glowered.

Clint scrambled towards the woman, liking his odds with her better.

The Hulk-like thing rose, flexing its hands.

“Edward, it’s alright. Hansel, what’s going on?” She reached for his face again.

Clint stared.

The battle came rushing back to him, that squeezing in his head, the magic, the darkness.

The conversation beforehand.

He looked at this woman, distress starting to show at the corners of her eyes when he backed away from her fingers again.

“Are you… my sister?” He asked, the words feeling ridiculous in his mouth.

“Hansel, this isn’t funny.”

“Yeah, okay,” Clint rubbed his eyes, “We have a problem here. I’m not Hansel.”








Hansel groaned and rolled over, stretching a hand out for his weapon or sister. Either would do.

His head ached.

He pressed his cheek into his coat and let his hand fall empty against the cave floor and breathed through the throbbing behind his eyes for a while.

His coat smelled wrong.

He cracked an eye, and then both. He stared stupidly at the pillow where his coat should be. He was out of the – holy fuck, BED – and reeling when his feet hit the cold, smooth floor a moment later.

He was in a white room that he sure as hell hadn’t fallen asleep in.

“Gretel?” He coughed. God, his throat was dry.

The room was empty.

He was wearing soft, ridiculous clothing. Thin to the point of useless, a dangerously eye-catching blue. His feet were bare.

“Gretel!” He yelled. The door, when he tried to open it, was locked.

Where were his weapons? Where was his sister? Where the fuck was he?

He kicked the door, bare foot smarting against the metal – god, metal. Who the hell made metal doors? He kicked again. Again.

The door opened and he barely caught his balance in time.

There was a slender, red-haired woman on the other side of the door, a large blond man behind her in the hallway.

“Barton,” She said, eyeing him carefully. Hansel was used to that look, that assessment of how things would go in a fight with him.

“Where is my sister?”

Her eyes widened. She tapped her ear – or, no, the device in her ear, Hansel saw.

“We have a problem,”  She said.

Hansel entirely agreed.