Chapter 1: Remembering Troy
Disclaimer: Don’t own Xena or Highlander
Methos unpacked the files he’d been given once the boy beside him was asleep and smiled at the memories the first brought up when he opened it as he settled in for the flight. Troy….
Helen gasped awake in bed and her husband stirred beside her, sitting up to hold her. “Nightmare again?”
“It’s so real, Paris.” She leant into him and his fingers carded through her golden hair.
“Shhh. I told you, there’s nothing to worry about. Menelaus and his army are exhausted. Victory for Troy is at hand.”
“I wish I could believe that.” She whispered.
“Get some rest. These nightmares rob you of your beauty, and after all-- isn’t that what I’ve been fighting for?” he teased and she slapped his arm but they lay back down together, Helen curled safely in his arms. “Sleep well my Queen.” He murmured.
Helen stood on the balcony, looking down at the killing field the fields before the city had become. The desolation spread to the distant beaches where the main Greek camp was amongst the ships that had brought them. She barely remembered the beauty of the land before the war, they’d barely had six months of peace before Menelaus had followed her. She should never have left Sparta; how many had died in her name now? All she could was try and stop more from dying needlessly. “Methos.”
“Is everything all right, your Highness?” he stepped forward from the shadows where he had been guarding her, hand on his sword. His uniform, once well-kept with shining armour was threadbare, the metal dulled and dented. Then again, his Queen’s wardrobe wasn’t in much better shape, the creamy silk himation had obviously been reworked at least once but it was clean.
“I need you to deliver a message for me. Have you heard of Xena?” He was her most trusted guard, despite how unassuming he may appear there was none better with a blade.
“Yes.” She was a warrior in a world that did not look well on female warriors. It was said she could have ruled Greece if she hadn’t suddenly disbanded her army and vanished for months.
Helen reached up and removed her tiara from her golden curls. “Take this to her.” she held it out to him and he approached.
“Yes, Highness.” Methos bowed and took it, mentally working out how he was going to get past the enemy and then all the way to Greece and back as he headed back to the barracks. Unless the warrior princess was closer? He changed out of his Trojan armour, donning something more nondescript and then took the old tunnels to escape the city, wary of cave ins and traps. Few dared to venture into them since several were known to the enemy but there was no other option.
“Half an apple-- that’s it?” Xena looked at the supplies in disbelief. Then again, this whole trip had been one mess after another. Why had she agreed to go to Thrace? It wasn’t like there wasn’t plenty of work in Greece. And now they had travelled even further east and south, far too close to Troy for her liking.
“I should have picked up some more supplies when we came down Mount Ida. But don’t worry. We’re not far from Troy. We can just stop there, and--” She tried. It was the first time she had ever travelled away from Greece and seeing the famous city would be amazing.
“No, we’re not stopping in Troy, Gabrielle. It’s too dangerous. And besides, after fighting the Greeks for ten years, I doubt that Trojans have any food to spare.” Xena was not taking Gabrielle near the city, she wasn’t ready for that sort of warfare.
“It was just a thought. I mean, the only chance I get to see Helen-- the face that launched a thousand ships.” Gabrielle smiled and Xena shook her head.
“A thousand war ships. Forget it.”
“OK. I don’t need food if you don’t. Hmm!” She shrugged and Xena sighed but they began walking for the nearest village to resupply. They made it to the market and began shopping.
“Let me pass!” Methos called, one hand on his side, feeling the blood slicking his fingers. He hadn’t even made it to a port or far enough North that he could make the journey on foot through Thrace and Macedon. The Greeks were relentless in their pursuit but there had been rumours of the Warrior Princess nearby.
“What is that?” Gabrielle turned to look at the disturbance.
“We’ve got him now!”
“Come on. Come on. Hurry!”
They watched the thugs, no soldiers, rush towards the man and Xena stepped in, not liking the poor man’s odds. “Is he all right?” Gabrielle asked once the fight was over and Xena went to the man, obviously a soldier and looked at his wounds but there was nothing anyone mortal could do for him.
“Are you Xena?” Methos asked weakly, he hated dying. But she was a female and a warrior which meant maybe he hadn’t failed his Queen. No Amazon wore black leather like that so he could hope.
“Yes-- do I know you?” Xena applied pressure to the wound and looked him over, it was possible he’d been one of her men though he didn’t look familiar, perhaps from an opposing army? Or even one of the many villages she’d passed through since abandoning Ares.
“I’m Methos. Queen Helen sent me to deliver a message to you.”
“Is she all right?”
“Yes-- but she wants you to come to Troy.” He panted, he weakly reached for his bag and Xena lifted it for him, allowing him to remove the tiara Helen had given him and he pressed it into her hands.
“You know Helen?” Gabrielle demanded with wide eyes, why hadn’t Xena said anything?
“We met a long time ago in Sparta-- before the war.” She had been sent by Ares for training and Helen had been just a girl, training with the other women and guarded closely to avoid another kidnapping.
“Please-- promise you’ll go. The lives of thousands of soldiers depend on you.” He whispered. Once he wouldn’t have cared, they were only mortal. But he had fought, eaten and slept beside them for almost ten years, they were comrades. Something he hadn’t had since he left his Brothers, he missed them, even after how bad things had gotten.
“I will.” Xena promised, if Helen had sent for her it must be very important, they hadn’t parted on the best of terms.
“Good. Be sure no one knows why you’re there.” He grasped her hand and she held his tightly, giving him comfort in his last moments.
“All right.” She agreed and then felt his hand relax even as his head slumped to the side.
“I-- Is--?” Gabrielle stared as Xena gently released the limp hand and stood.
“Yes. We’ll give him a proper burial, and then we’ll go.” She managed to lift him, he was stall but not overly large so she could handle the weight. She lay him over Argo’s saddle and then grabbed his bag as well, he may have possessions in there to be returned to family.
“To Troy?” Gabrielle asked, just to be sure and suddenly not so eager to go after watching him die.
“To Troy.” Xena agreed as she quickly bought the needed supplies and then they left the village to deal with the body, digging a shallow grave, Xena slipped a coin for the ferryman into his mouth, before pushing the soil back in and leaving a marker so all would know a brave soldier lay beneath. Once that was done she stabled Argo, paying for several weeks to be safe. They would have to make the journey on foot and she didn’t want to risk him.
He’d woken hours later under several feet of soil and had struggled to dig himself out, spitting out the coin and feeling grateful she’d tried to ensure safe passage for his soul. It had been kind of them to give him a proper burial. He had returned to Troy but had hidden in the shadows since Xena had announced his death. So, the information on his possible presence at the battle ended there, but he had seen it through to the end.
“That’s Troy.” Xena commented as they stood at the edge of the massive cleared area before the walls of Troy. The ground was a mess form almost a decade of battle, it would not be easy to cross but at least they weren’t coming at it from the direction of the sea, they’d never make it across that way.
“Oh. OK-- let me get this straight. To get inside Troy, not only do we have to get past that huge stone wall but—we have to do it in front of the Greek army?” Gabrielle demanded. The walls of Troy were massive, solid stone, reaching high into the sky. They were pitted with damage from attack and looking worn, but still solid.
“Shh! Keep your voice down, Gabrielle.” Xena warned, blue eyes scanning the ground they had to cover, taking in the various traps and hiding places with an experienced eye.
“Right. But you do have a plan?” This was Xena, she always had a plan, right?
“Count on it. Are your boots laced? Come on!” Xena pulled her out of cover at a run.
“Ahh!” Gabrielle screamed, she may technically be an Amazon now but that didn’t mean she was used to battlefields. Thugs, mercenaries sure, but this?
“Follow my lead! Come on! Stay close, Gabrielle!” Xena urged as she ran through the killing field.
Greek soldiers began popping up as they ran and Xena pulled her sword even as Gabrielle occasionally slammed her staff into one.
Trojan soldiers moved onto the walls at the noise, staring at the two distant figures running closer. “Gabrielle?” Perdicus whispered in shock as he recognised the long strawberry blond hair and the wind brought her voice to him.
“Perdicus? Are you all right?” Another soldier asked.
“Open the gates! Open the gates!” he yelled down.
“Open the gates? Are you crazy?” one of the men on the gates yelled back and Perdicus swore before rushing down the stairs.
“Run, Gabrielle! Run! I’ll cover you.” Xena called and she hurled her chakram at the enemy to protect her.
“I’m right behind you!”
“Come on!” she yelled as the gates opened.
“Charge the gates!” A Greek soldier called even as the two women dashed inside.
“Help me get the gates. Open the gates! Come on, hurry! Hurry! Get inside! Go in there!” Perdicus called to Xena.
“You first!” she answered.
“Archers! Close the gates!” he yelled once both were inside.
“Thanks for your help.” Xena nodded to the solider.
“We should introduce ourselves. My name is Gabrie--.”
“I know who you are.” He pulled his helmet off and Gabrielle froze in shock, eyes wide.
“Perdicus?” she whispered and he smiled slightly.
“You two know one another.” Xena looked at her friend, worried by her reaction.
“This is Perdicus, from my home town. We were to be married.”
“I thought you were a farmer.” Xena didn’t know what else to say at that moment. They were standing in a muddy courtyard in Troy and all three were a mess.
“I was, but-- not anymore. Shore up those gates.” He shrugged and called up to another soldier.
“Follow me. Welcome to Troy.” He grinned slightly and led them into the city. Once beautiful white stone buildings were faded and damaged from the decade of fighting, all greenery long dead. A very depressing welcome to the famous city.
“Well, this plan of yours had better work. The morale of my troops dwindles with each passing day. If Troy doesn’t fall soon, I may never see Helen again.” Menelaus snapped at the cloaked figure beside him in his command tent.
“King Menelaus. Forgive me, your Highness. I didn’t mean to intrude.” A soldier snapped a salute as he entered.
“What is it?”
“A report from the front-- The Warrior Princess, Xena-- has fought through our lines and into Troy.”
“Xena? Leave us. Well, I trust you can take care of this little unforeseen problem. We don’t need a wolf among our sheep now, do we?” he asked his spy.
“So, what brings you to Troy?” Perdicus asked as they moved further into the city.
“The war.” Xena stated.
“You’re here to fight?” he asked in relief, they desperately needed reinforcements.
“If I’m needed.” She agreed, remembering the soldiers’ words to not say why she had come.
“With your fighting skills, I’m sure you’ll be welcome by Commander Deiphobus.” He smiled at her.
He’s-- the head of Troy’s security forces and Paris’ brother.” He started moving towards the Commander’s headquarters near the Palace.
“Well, first, I have to see Helen and Paris.”
“Why?” he stopped in surprise and turned to look at her.
“I’ve got to meet who I’m fighting for.” She shrugged, keeping an eye on the soldiers moving about. Very few civilians were on the streets, the few that were kept their heads down and moved quickly.
“I’m sorry-- No one sees them without permission. It’s against regulations.” After three attempted assassinations, it was a necessary precaution. Paris and Deiphobus were the only ones left of Priam’s many children and every day the people hoped for news that Helen was pregnant, to secure the Royal line.
“Well, that’s never bothered me before. Don’t worry, if anyone asks, I’ll say you tried to stop me. Wait here. I’m sure you two have plenty to talk about.” With that she vanished and Gabrielle sighed.
“Good to see you.” They said at the same time and laughed awkwardly.
“Perdicus, the Greeks are on the move!”
“Call out the second detail! I want them on the south battlement!” men rushed to do as he commanded.
“Find someplace safe-- I have to go.” He turned to Gabrielle and took her hands briefly before running back to the gates.
“Quickly!” Soldiers were yelling
“I understand, you opened the gates for the Greek Warrior Woman!” Deiphobus demanded as Perdicus arrived.
“Yes, Commander, but she, she battled an entire platoon of her own countrymen. I— I thought we could possibly utilize her fighting skills.”
“Perhaps, but where do I find her, now?”
“I advised that she report to you, sir.” He answered since it was the truth.
“Then, why haven’t I seen her?!” he demanded angrily.
“I tried to stop her, but she insisted on seeing Paris and Helen first.”
“If anything happens to them, I will hold _you_ responsible.” He growled.
Methos took his place, identity hidden behind his helmet, coming back had been crazy but this was worth fighting for. Besides, he’d never liked the Spartans.
“You sent for me?” Xena asked as she slipped from the shadows and Helen smiled after she calmed from the fright, approaching her friend.
“Xena-- I was worried you wouldn’t come.”
“Well, we’ve had our differences in the past, but, you’re still a friend.” She handed the tiara back and Helen placed it in her hair.
“Thank you. Where’s Methos?” she glanced around for her loyal bodyguard. Amazingly he was one of the incredibly few men on earth to not desire her.
“Dead-- I fought off his attackers, but not in time to save his life. I’m sorry. I know you wouldn’t have sent him into danger without a good reason.”
“You’re right. I see terrible things in my dreams, Xena. I want you to take me to Menelaus.” Helen explained as she moved to the window, looking down into the city. Troy had been a marvel when she had arrived on Paris’ arm, now it was a wreck, the people living in squalor and starvation. It made her feel bad for wearing silk and fine linen, even if it was getting old. All she had done was trade one gilded cage for another at the expense of so many innocents.
“Why would you want to go back to the man you were forced to marry?” Xena moved to stand beside her, looking down as well. She’d heard the stories of Troy in its glory, to see it like this…she was one woman without an army, there wasn’t a lot she could do.
“It’s the only way the Greeks will withdraw and the fighting will stop.” She whispered sadly.
“You’re wrong. Paris and his army will carve a bloody path to the sea chasing after you. You’re better off staying in Troy. At least Paris loves you.” Xena turned to go.
“Wait! Xena, please. After ten years of war Troy has become a city of misery and death. Paris may love me but, now he is consumed with victory. I just want the war to end. I don’t want him to die because of me.” She choked and then the doors to her chambers slammed open.
“There she is!”
“What is the meaning of this, Deiphobus? How dare you enter my chamber!” Helen snapped at the man, standing tall and Xena was happy to see her spirit had not been crushed by the war. She was still a daughter of Sparta at heart.
“My apologies, but your safety’s my first concern.” he bowed slightly to her.
“Then you’d better tighten security. I’ve got to tell you, for a city under attack, it was pretty easy to get in here.” Xena commented casually, wanting to see what he was like when challenged.
“What do you _want_?” He demanded of her.
“To meet with Helen. I don’t fight for people I don’t know.” Xena shrugged and leant against the wall, letting him now she didn’t think he or his men were a threat.
“A Greek warrior wants to fight for Troy. Do you take me for a fool?”
“She’s telling the truth. If you don’t believe her, let Paris decide.” Helen commanded.
“By all means-- my guards will escort you to the temple.”
“Ahhh.” Perdicus looked away as Gabrielle tended his arm where an arrow had grazed him.
“It’s been a long time.” She offered, for once not sure what to say.
“Yeah-- last time I saw you, you were-- sprintin’ out of town.” He pointed out and she grimaced.
“Right-- I’m sorry-- I-- that I left without saying goodbye. It was wrong.”
“That’s all right. I’m not angry anymore.” He assured her.
“What are you doing in Troy?” She tied off the bandage and put her herbs away. She wasn’t the Healer Xena was but she was learning. Life on the road was not easy and she had to pull her own weight. She was no longer a liability in a fight, she was an Amazon Princess after all. But she was still learning skills Xena took for granted.
“I had heard stories about Helen and Paris. I-- I wanted to be in a place where people were fighting for love.”
“I’m the one who told you those stores. That’s all they were stories. You’re not a soldier, Perdicus. You don’t belong here.” She argued.
“No, no. For the first time in my life, I feel I really do belong.”
“Go home, before something happens to you.” She pleaded and he put his hand over hers.
“I’m sorry, Gabrielle, but you can’t tell me what to do anymore.” He stood and moved back to his post and she watched him sadly, this was all her fault.
Xena followed Deiphobus into the Temple where Paris knelt in prayer. The Prince, basically King these days, stood and faced them. He was an attractive man but obviously worn by the long war and the many deaths, including his beloved brother Hector.
“She claims she wants to fight for Troy.” Deiphobus announced.
“If you want me.”
“I don’t trust her. She’s Greek-- an outsider.” The Commander argued.
“I never lifted a sword for Greece.” She denied, she had fought with and against her countrymen as Ares’ warrior but never for the whole country.
“It makes no difference.”
“Look, she fought bravely to get into Troy. I don’t see any reason to doubt her.” Paris interjected.
“Deiphobus.” A call came and a man approached.
They found Helen on the wall with several soldiers and Xena drew her sword. “Xena. What are you doing?”
“I saw this coward kill a loyal Trojan outside the city. That cut on his face was made by my sword.” She pointed out and he attacked, knowing he had been discovered. The fight was short and brutal but the killing blow did not come from her. She knelt beside him to check. “He’s dead.”
“Good-- This man was obviously a traitor.” Deiphobus looked at her with new respect for her skills.
“He was a member of your personal guard, Deiphobus.” Paris pointed out, moving to Helen’s side to ensure she was alright.
“I know-- and I assure you, there’ll be a thorough investigation of all my men.”
“Good idea-- traitors rarely act alone. It’s a shame this one won’t be talking.”
“He was but a few paces from you and Helen. I-- I had no choice but to kill him.” Deiphobus defended his actions to Paris who nodded.
“What’s done is done. Xena, you’ve proven yourself an ally of Troy. You’re welcome to stay as our guest. Treat her accordingly.” Pairs commanded as he led Helen away.
“As you wish.” Deiphobus answered.
“It’s me, isn’t it? That’s why you’re doing this.” Gabrielle leant on her staff as she watched him clean his sword.
“You have nothing to feel guilty about. I’m here because I wanna be.”
“You forget who you’re talking to. Remember the time that you almost drowned trying to save my hat when it fell in the river? Or the time that you almost got trampled trying to give me a carriage ride?” she pointed out.
“Well, those days are over. I’m not a love-sick kid anymore.” He answered, sheathing the now clean blade and going to work on patching his armour.
“What if something happens to you? What am I supposed to do then?”
“Write a story about me.” He flashed her a boyish grin.
“Archers! Archers!” the warning sounded from atop the gates and then one of the soldiers fell, an arrow in his neck.
“Take cover.” Perdicus yelled as he shoved Gabrielle down and into a doorway.
“Head for your stations!”
“Perdicus!” She yelled as he ran up the stairs to the top of the wall.
“Give me a bow! This is for my friend!” he shot one of the enemy archers.
“You’ve taken good care of Gabrielle. I wanted to thank you for that.” Perdicus told Xena as they sat around a small fire, eating their rations.
“There’s no need she’s like family.” She assured him and then spotted the Commander slipping into a building. “Tell me about Deiphobus.”
“Well… he may not be the nicest guy in town, but he’s a good warrior. No one has killed more enemies.”
“What about friends?”
“What do you mean?” he frowned in confusion.
“Xena?” Gabrielle focused on their conversation.
“Nothing. It’s just a hunch.”
“I better be getting back.” He stood and returned his bowl before disappearing into the darkness.
“If you’re worried about Perdicus, don’t. He’s a good soldier-- he’ll be all right.”
“I hope so. So, did you find out Helen’s plan to end the war?”
“She wants me to take her back to Menelaus.” She scrapped the last few morsels from the bowl.
“You’re kidding! Are you gonna do it?”
“No-- it won’t solve anything. But I do think she’s in danger here.”
“There’s something going on in Troy. I don’t know what it is, but I can feel it. I’d feel a lot better if you stayed here with Perdicus. I know he’ll take care of you. I’ve got something to do. Keep your eyes open.” She warned and stood to go. Gabrielle sighed but finished her food and headed back to the wall.
Methos put his bowl in the dirty pile and slipped away to take a watch on the gates. Helen’s plan was brave but he agreed with Xena, it wouldn’t work. The war was about more than her now.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Xena asked and Helen spun to face her, hood falling back as Xena stopped her in an alleyway,
“The only thing I can. I’m going to Menelaus, with or without your help.”
“That’s not the answer.” Xena got in her way.
“Then, what is? Every day another soldier dies for my happiness. I can’t live with it anymore!” Helen half shouted in grief even as Xena grasped her arm and led her back to the Palace.
“Then don’t. The war stopped being about your happiness a long time ago, Helen. Paris may love you but he and Menelaus barely know you. The war will go on without you, Helen. Let it.” Xena offered.
“But, where would I go? What would I do?” She shook her head. No matter where she went people would recognise her surely?
“What do you want to do?” Xena asked as she settled Helen on a couch, taking the cloak from her to put away.
Helen stared down at her hands, seeing the golden rings and bracelets Paris had gifted her over the years gleaming against her pale skin. “I don’t know. No one’s ever asked me that before.”
“Deiphobus.” A soldier called below the balcony and Helen went out to look down, frowning.
“Where’s Deiphobus going?”
“Wait here.” Xena took off after him.
“They don’t suspect a thing.” Deiphobus reported and Menelaus grinned.
“Excellent work, Deiphobus.”
“I followed Deiphobus to the Greek camp, where I saw him plotting with King Menelaus.” Xena reported to Paris and Helen in the war room.
“She’s right. I did meet with Menelaus. But I was there to convince him that he’ll never win this war. I was there to make peace.” He announced as he entered the room.
You mean--” Helen trailed off, hope growing.
“Yes. At long last, King Menelaus has decided to give up.”
“Thank the gods!” Helen breathed, clasping Paris’ hand.
“What I saw was no council of peace. Your brother is a traitor.” Xena tried to warn them.
“I have reports from every platoon. The Greek army has pulled out, and they’ve left a gift of peace at the gates.” A soldier reported as he ran in and Paris laughed in joy, lifting and spinning Helen before kissing her.
“Beware Greeks bearing gifts, Paris.”
“Too little, too late, Xena. Your people have surrendered.” Deiphobus sneered.
“Can’t you see what’s going on?” Xena demanded, were they really this blind?
“Don’t listen to her! She can’t be trusted. Ask yourself this: What was Xena doing near the Greek camp? You’ve won the war, my brother.” The brothers laughed together.
“You’re right about Xena. I can’t take any chances.” Paris turned to the guard and Helen grabbed his arm.
“No-- you can’t do this.”
“Things are a little more complicated than they seem, my dear. Why don’t you find yourself something _pretty_ to wear to the celebration?” He smiled at Helen and then ordered the guard. “Get her!”
“Move!” Xena surrendered her sword as Helen watched on is dismay.
Methos moved between drunk soldiers to stare at the massive wooden horse. He did not believe in the Greek withdrawal, this was the sort of ploy he would have pulled. But no one wanted to listen. Where was Xena? Surely, she could talk sense into them? He went to the water barrels and began mixing herbs in to try and help with the results of tonight’s revelry, if they got the chance to drink the water without an attack first. Caspian had laughed at him learning about herbs, claiming there was no need when they were immortal, but it had come in handy over the years.
“Good morning! Too bad you’re missing all the fun, Xena. There’s been quite a celebration.” He tapped at the bars of her cell.
“Don’t even bother, Deiphobus. You might fool the others.”
He laughed, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“We both know that horse is a trick. But what I can’t figure out, is what a scum-sucking opportunist like you would want Helen back with Menelaus for?” he just laughed again. “What do you get out of it?”
“Have you met the new prisoner? This is Xena, the Greek warrior who betrayed you by helping the people of Troy.” He called out to the other prisoners and Xena sighed but moved to defend herself.
“Why a sad face?” Paris wrapped an arm around her waist, she looked so beautiful in Trojan blue.
“I don’t feel much like celebrating.” She tried to move away.
“Don’t be silly. We _finally_ defeated Menelaus and his army. You should be-- overjoyed. Still angry about Xena? I’ve told you, she’s in the dungeon because that’s where she belongs.” He was frustrated with her reaction. After so long they finally had victory! Now they could live their lives together and rebuild the Royal family.
“But, she’s done nothing wrong. If you really love me, you’ll trust my judgment.” Helen argued.
“I’m tired of this-- I didn’t fight ten long years to listen to your judgment. We have a celebration to attend.” He left and she slumped in grief, biting back a sob. What had happened to her Paris?
By the time Methos managed to nick a key and make his way to the dungeon he found a lot of unconscious Greek prisoner and no sign of the Warrior Princess. He grinned and left, impressed. If only she was Immortal, imagine how much she could achieve. She would have even been a challenge to the Horsemen if she’d lived in their time. At least most of the men had drunk the water and were obviously feeling better but he doubted it would make much of a difference.
“That was some party. I wonder what happened to Xena. It’s not like her to be gone so long.” Gabrielle asked as they walked the streets, it was mostly quiet now, most sleeping off the party.
“She’s probably up at the palace. I’m sure that Helen and Paris are throwing the biggest party of all.” He grinned.
Gabrielle laughed. “I don’t know-- She’s not much for parties.”
“Well, I wouldn’t worry, I’m sure that she can _more_ than take care of herself.”
“Troy’s not like back home, is it?” She sighed, looking around and trying to imagine Troy in all its glory.
“Do you remember the time that we got caught stealing corn from Hylus’ farm, and he threatened to tell your father?”
“But then you took the blame so I wouldn’t be punished. Did I ever thank you for that?”
“Thank you.” She kissed his cheek and leant against him as they walked. “Did you ever think, when we were kids, that we’d find each other again, here, in the middle of Troy?”
“No, but I’m sure glad that we did.” He wrapped an arm around her.
As the city fell silent the wooden horse began to break apart, letting the soldiers within out. “Open the gates!”
“Hurry!” the few sentries fell silently, taken from behind by surprise.
“Open the gates!” they slowly opened to reveal the Greeks waiting.
“Find Helen, and bring her to me!” Menelaus ordered as they spilled into the city.
“It’s begun. Menelaus is looking for Helen. It’s your job to find her first.” Deiphobus ordered his men.
“What about Paris?”
“Leave my brother to me.”
Perdicus and Gabrielle went back to back as Greek soldiers rushed through the streets, sword and staff moving quickly. “Wake up! We’re under attack!” he yelled but few answered his call.
“Round up as many people as you can. Meet me at the temple of Aphrodite.” Xena called as she moved into view, fighting three soldiers at once. One came up behind her but was felled by one of the few alert soldiers and she nodded to him. Methos grinned behind his helmet and moved on to try and save as many as he could.
“Where are you going?” Perdicus demanded.
“To get Helen.” She ran off and Gabrielle pulled his arm.
“Let’s go.” They moved towards the temple. “Hurry! In here!” Gabrielle directed the terrified civilians to the temple. Methos began ducking into homes and rousing the occupants, pushing them towards the temple and temporary safety.
“I don’t know. Just find the rest of your men; retreat to the south battlement; and form a new line of defence.” Paris ordered his soldiers as they spilled into the courtyard outside the temple.
“Go! Perdicus. How did this happen?”
“The surrender was a trick. The Greeks have broken through the main gates. Come with us to the temple. Come on! Close the gates.” Perdicus shouted back as they fought to clear the way for the terrified people.
Helen stood at the window, watching in horror as Troy was overrun. Why hadn’t they listened?
The door broke and she spun but relaxed at seeing Trojan soldiers. “It’s Helen! Take her!”
“What are you doing? Take me to Paris.” She demanded as one grabbed her arm.
“Sorry-- We’ve got other orders.” He sneered and then fell.
Xena easily handled them and held her hand out to Helen. “Come on, let’s go!” Helen grabbed her cloak and swung it over her shoulders as she ran after her friend.
“Down here! Down here!” A soldier called, pushing people deeper into the temple.
“That’s everyone. Secure the doors.” Perdicus called, far too few had made it inside but they couldn’t wait any longer and the courtyard was empty.
“Xena, I misjudged you.” Paris told her as she led Helen in.
Methos blended into the crowd, carrying a young child on his hip. He’d pulled her from her dead mother’s arms and she was clinging to him, not carrying about his bloody armour. He’d helped as many as he could but looking around he didn’t know how they would make it out. The Greeks could wait them out or attack the doors, they were solid but they wouldn’t hold forever. It all depended if they were willing to risk Aphrodite’s anger.
“Everything’s proceeding according to schedule.” They stood in a courtyard filled with the bodies of the fallen.
“Good. Have you found Helen yet?” Menelaus growled.
“Helen and the others are in the temple. They’ve barricaded the doors.”
“Well, what are you waiting for?! Break it down!”
“We’re trying. Sire, Aphrodite…”
“Will understand this is for love spurned! Bring Helen to me! Torch the city and everything in it! And remove the horse! I want it as a memento of my conquest! Burn the city! Burn Troy to the ground!” he cried out, almost mad with victory.
“Let me out. Menelaus will stop this madness once I surrender.” Helen pleaded.
“I can’t let you do that.”
“It’s _me_ they want.” Helen snapped at her friend.
“Maybe there’s another way. Show me where the supply room is.” Xena offered.
“I don’t see how--”
“This way.” Helen lead her off to the side.
“Looks like the entire Greek army’s out there. It doesn’t look good.” Perdicus told her sadly.
“Perdicus?” She called and he looked up only for her to kiss him.
“Gab-- Y-- You--”
“This may be the last chance I get to tell you this. I am--I’m really sorry. I know that I treated you badly--”
“And I let you. It was just as much my fault, Gabrielle. If only we could’ve been honest with each other.”
“I can’t be more honest than this?” She offered, kissing him again and his arms wrapped around her, holding her close.
“This room was built to store foods and supplies in case the Greeks ever invaded. I never thought we’d use it.” Helen admitted as she showed Xena.
“No, this’ll do just fine.” Xena answered and then tensed when she saw Paris and Helen hesitated.
“It’s all right. I’d like to speak to him for a moment.” Helen told her.
“Don’t be too long.” Xena warned and went to leave.
“I’m sorry.” Paris said as he entered the room.
“You don’t owe _me_ an apology.” Xena pointed out and he turned to Helen as Xena left.
“I don’t know how all this happened. I just wanted to love you.” He admitted sadly.
“Maybe at first you did, maybe there was never love, just love, I don’t know anymore. If we survive, I’m not going stay with you. I want my own life.” She admitted and he nodded sadly, pulling her in for one last tender kiss and she wrapped her arms around him, clinging for a moment to the only security she had known for a decade.
“I wish you only the best.” He released her and smiled softly, then he saw his brother. “Deiphobus. The Greeks deceived you.”
“It wasn’t me who was deceived. There’s only one man worthy of Helen,” he stabbed Paris in the stomach, who gasped in shock and pain, “---me.”
“No! Why?!” Helen screamed, catching Paris and going down to the floor with him, gently brushing his hair back even as he struggled to breathe. He touched her cheek and then blue eyes became vacant as his hand dropped. “No!” She cried, she still loved him, after everything, she had loved Paris and now he was dead.
“Now, you’re mine.” Deiphobus grabbed her arm and pulled her away from his brothers’ body, her white and gold gown covered in his cooling blood.
“Xena!” She screamed for her friend, tears falling as she Paris was lost to sight.
“Everything all right?” Xena asked as she joined them, sensing something had changed.
“Do you think we have enough of this stuff?” Perdicus asked and Xena grinned.
“Trust me-- We’ll have the biggest smokescreen you have ever seen.”
“Where’s… where’s Paris and Helen?” Gabrielle asked when she didn’t see them.
“In the supply room.”
“’I’ll get ‘em.” She headed for the supply room and then froze in the doorway before rushing back.
“Gabrielle, hurry!” Xena yelled at her.
“Xena?! Paris is dead.” Gabrielle looked a little shaken, it had not been a small wound.
“What? Where’s Helen?” Xena asked, moving away from the doors where they’d been piling flammable supplies.
“Menelaus has taken her.” Perdicus growled but Xena shook her head.
“No, no. He would’ve called off his army.”
“Then who?” He demanded and she scowled.
“Deiphobus.” Xena answered.
“Deiphobus? But why?” Perdicus asked as they looked around near the supply room and uncovered the escape tunnel Deiphobus had used.
“No time to find out now. We’ll leave the same way Deiphobus came in! Go! Go! Go! Go! Run! Run!” She began urging people towards the tunnel as the doors buckled. It lead out into another section of the city, thankfully one currently lacking Greek soldiers.
“Xena!” Gabrielle shouted and tossed Xena a torch to set the place alight.
As Xena turned into the tunnel the doors gave way and the Greeks rushed in only to cough in the smoke. “Where’d they go?!”
“I can’t see!”
“So, where is she? Where’s Helen?” Menelaus demanded as his men left the Temple.
“I’m sorry. We’ve checked every corner of the temple. There’s no one.”
“You fool! You’ve let them get away! Shut the gates! No one leaves the city!”
“As Menelaus ordered, remove the horse!”
“I thought this thing would be a lot lighter with nobody in it.” A Greek soldier complained as they pulled the horse. He stared in surprise as a leather clad figure dropped form the horse, sword in hand.
“Thanks for the lift.” Xena ran them through. “Get everyone away from the horse. I’ll meet you on the next road.”
“Where are you going?” Gabrielle asked as Perdicus helped her down.
“To get Helen. Run for your miserable lives.” She shouted before going after Deiphobus. It wouldn’t take long for the Greeks to realise how they’d gotten out. Methos leapt down and then began working to help the children out, urging them towards the tree line in the distance.
“What do you _want_ from me?!” Helen demanded as she was dragged further and further from Troy and her dead husband.
“What does every man want from Helen of Troy?” he leered at her.
“Don’t you realize what you’ve done?! You’ve killed your own brother! And ruined Troy! And for what? A woman who will only despise you!” She snapped angrily, head held high as she regained her feet.
“No matter. With you at my side, we’ll build a new city; give birth to a new race of Trojans. With my strength and your beauty, our children will rule the world.” He announced and that was it.
She may be Helen of Troy but she had been born of Sparta and they did not allow weakness, even in their women. It had been years since she trained with the other girls but she lunged for his sword.
Xena blinked and stopped as she saw Helen standing over Deiphobus, sword in hand. Helen looked up at her sadly, lost. “What now?”
“We leave him here. When Menelaus comes out of Troy empty-handed, I want Deiphobus to be the first thing he sees.” Xena smirked and Helen smiled, helping to tie up the wounded man. “Very nice. Come on.” They headed for where Xena had left the others.
“Listen, Gabrielle. I know… things got pretty crazy in there. And, maybe you said some things that, that you didn’t really mean. I just want you to know that-- I don’t expect anything from you. As far as I’m concerned, we can go our separate ways.” Perdicus explained and Gabrielle felt a flash of pain, that wasn’t what she wanted but she forced a smile as they helped the people move away from the horse and into the trees where it was safer.
“Right-- Ha-hah! That’s exactly what I was thinking.”
“Good, good.” She wouldn’t cry.
“I know that we’ll see each other again, some day. You take care of yourself.”
“You too.” The hug goodbye felt awkward now.
“Thank you for everything. I just wish we could have saved Troy.” Helen smiled sadly at the smoking city in the distance as they neared the other survivors.
“When two kings are bent on destruction, there’s nothing much anyone can do.”
“You’ve done a lot for me, Xena. You showed me the only person that can make me happy is me. I appreciate that.” She whispered and Xena smiled sadly.
“You’re welcome. What’s next for you?”
“I don’t know. But for the first time it’s my decision.”
“I know you’ll make it the right one.”
Perdicus walked over to them and offered his hand to Xena. “Goodbye, Xena.”
“Perdicus, where you headed?”
“A new city a few days’ journey from here. But who knows?” he shrugged.
“It sounds wonderful. Do you mind if I travel with you for a while?” Helen asked, if this soldier was known to Xena then he was trustworthy.
“Not at all. I’ll send a messenger ahead to announce your arrival… so the leaders can…” Perdicus babbled.
“If it’s all the same to you, I think I’d rather be treated like a normal person for a change.” She smiled at Xena who nodded.
“You take care.”
“You know I will.” Helen smiled as Perdicus secured some supplies and then offered her his arm.
“Shall we?” He offered.
“OK.” They headed off as Xena and Gabrielle watched. the survivors sorted out supplies and then headed off in different directions. Troy had fallen but her people would live on, if in hiding.
Methos watched the two women leave while Helen left with a single soldier. He ditched his armour and secured his sword before moving to trail them, wanting to ensure the one time Queen got away safely.
“I thought Perdicus would be joining us for a while.” Xena admitted after a few hours of walking and Gabrielle smiled sadly.
“No I think he’s made other plans.”
Gabrielle grinned. “Do you want to go back for the horse? It’s bound to be a collectors’ item?”
“Only if you’re gonna pull it.” Xena smirked at her friend.
Methos closed the file and looked at the young boy sleeping in the seat beside him. Who knew, maybe he had Trojan blood in him somewhere down the family tree. It was amusing to read the translated Xena scroll where the mention of his name had been recorded. Getting the job as junior researcher of himself had been for fun, it was amazing the memories it had already brought up. He’d never been to Seacouver before and was almost looking forward to it. He put the files away and settled down to sleep for the rest of the night.
Chapter 2: The Family Business
Edited! Living in Portland changed the brothers lives in more ways than John may have thought it would.
Disclaimer: None of it is mine
Edited the section when they see Nick
The Family Business
John glanced back to see his sons in the backseat, Sammy was fast asleep but Dean was staring out the window at the scenery as Portland grew further and further away. For the first time, he actually felt bad taking his boys away. He had never seen Sammy so happy and even Dean had been brighter, he hadn’t seen him like that since before Mary died. In a way, he almost wished he’d never taken the hunt, then he wouldn’t be ripping his children away from their first happy time in years. In the end, he had stayed longer just to try and give them some peace. It had turned out good really, they had both learned a moving meditative art that would aide in further training. He’d started teaching Dean to fight and he’d improved since learning the Evans’ style. Even his grades had jumped, not that they really mattered.
When the hunt had first popped up he’d considered leaving the boys with Bobby. Then he’d figured out how long it could take, and had taken, and had decided to spare the other man. It was one thing for him to watch the boys for a few days, but months? That would be torture. But it had also left him with no other option than to bring the boys with him, something he rarely did in big cities. It was actually easier to stay hidden in smaller towns than in cities where teachers were more alert to odd things.
He envied Evans and Kessler for their neat arrangement of sharing child rearing duties. And he was thankful Dean had made use of it when he’d been injured and unable to make it back within the timeframe he had given. Part of him had been tempted to remain in the city and take part, giving him the freedom to hunt and giving his boys stability. But it was impossible, they needed intense training and experience.
That thing would be back one day, he knew it. He had already lost Mary, he would not lose either of his boys. He still didn’t know exactly what had killed Mary or why it had been in Sammy’s nursery. Had Sammy been the target? Or just an easy first victim? He’d found a few hints here and there but nothing solid. He had his own theories too, he just prayed they were wrong.
It would take a few days to get to the next hunt, Wisconsin. He could have done it quicker but the boys weren’t as used to long drives after their months stationary. He could ease them back into it a bit.
Dean looked around the motel room where they were staying. At least it had a separate bedroom but after spending so much time at Harry and Nick’s places and living in a rented apartment it felt worse than normal to be in. He tossed his bag down and then went to help Sammy. It was back to being just the two of them and before that had been great, now he knew Sammy missed the others… and so did he. Cedarburg, Wisconsin was very different to Portland.
“I need to head out, watch Sammy, Dean.”
“Yes Dad,” Dean answered and he left them. “Come on Sammy, let’s get something to eat.” He went to the small kitchenette and began heating up some soup.
“We going back to Harry’s when Dad’s done?”
Dean winced. “No Sammy, we aren’t going back.” No matter how much they might wish it. Once Sam was settled in with a book he pulled out the envelope he’d hidden in his bag and pulled out the card, working to memorise it. If anything, ever happened to Dad it would be good to have another option along with Uncle Bobby and Pastor Jim. He wouldn’t give the money to Dad, he would keep it hidden so that the next time he was gone longer they would have money to fall back on when the stuff Dad left ran out.
Dean hit the mute button, hearing something odd. He grabbed the gun Dad left for emergencies and slipped into the bedroom only to aim at the window as something moved outside. The window opened and Dean took aim. “Sammy roll!” he yelled, startling Sam awake and thankfully the kid rolled off the bed and Dean fired, making the creature shriek and retreat. Dean pulled Sam from the bedroom and into the main room, blocking off the windows as best he could while pouring another salt circle while Sam watched with wide eyes.
When John returned in the morning he found Sammy asleep in the circle, leaning against Dean who was fighting to stay awake, holding the emergency gun. “Dean?”
“Something came in the window but I shot it,” Dean answered, waking up more with his return.
“Are either of you hurt?”
“No sir.” Dean stood up even as John scooped Sam up.
“Good work Dean. I’m taking the two of you to Pastor Jim for safety. Go pack,” He ordered and Dean scrambled to pack their things. John got the boys into the car and headed for Jim’s. He would come back to finish the hunt once they were safe. He was proud of Dean’s reaction.
Dean slowly went through the moves, Sammy coping him. He wished there’d been time to learn more from James and Harry. But it was good exercise and helpful for learning to fight. He didn’t want Sam learning to fight, he wanted to protect him, but Dad had insisted. At least he wasn’t pushing weapons training on him yet, but Dean knew it would start soon. Sam would be nine soon, the little genius was top of his grade at school, even with how much they moved around. Dean did his best to keep his grades up but it wasn’t always easy when he was basically raising Sammy himself. Dad was always hunting, leaving them alone in motels and often without enough money. He’d stretched out what Harry had given them as long as he could but it was gone now. It was tempting to send a letter, ask for help, but then there would be questions he couldn’t answer.
John didn’t dare look to where Dean should be as he aimed at the werewolf. But the rushing creature knocked it out of his hand before he could, slicing deep cuts in his hand as he fell back. He raised his arms to protect his throat only for the werewolf to jerk as three gunshots sounded. He rolled to the side as the body dropped, reverting to human in death. He looked over to see Dean standing there, gun held shakily. He stood up and walked over, gently taking the weapon. “Good shot Dean.” He praised and then held Dean as he threw up. Once sure Dean was alright he tore his shirt to wrap his hand and then moved to deal with the body. For Dean’s second hunt he had done very well.
John watched as Dean walked Sam through gun safety before letting the kid load the gun and take aim at the row of cans. At twelve Sam was growing like a weed and he would bet he would end up taller than Dean. He was also starting gun training several years later than Dean had but he had been taught to use a knife and machete, and he had proven to be a natural with a blade.
He’d been keeping his distance lately, unable to work through what he had learnt after all these years. It had been a demon that killed Mary, a demon that had wanted Sam. Nothing good could come of that. He suspected it had done something to the boy but what? And was there any way to undo it or at least keep Sam safe from its influence? Should Sam be trained? Or was it better for him to be kept weak, in case the worse happened? He couldn’t even talk to anyone about it without putting the boys at risk, something he wasn’t going to do.
Dean had to read the paper twice, in shock, but it didn’t change. James Evans of Portland was dead in a car crash which his son Harrison had survived. Apparently, he’d been pulled from the vehicle by a young man named Sean Renard who had seen the accident. Harry was now an orphan at… sixteen.
Sam tugged the paper off him, seeing his reaction and gasped as he read it. Dean hugged him briefly before sending him off to do his homework.
Dean pulled out paper and hesitated before finally writing the plea for help before addressing an envelope and sneaking out to mail it, hoping the Evans’ remembered them still. Was the address any good with James dead? To his shock three days later a response arrived. Inside was paperwork giving him custody of Sammy, along with bank account details, an address and house keys. The part of him that had spent the last years learning to hunt said to not accept it but he wanted to believe that Harry was trustworthy. So, he packed them up and onto a bus across town. There was a small house with a security system which he set once they were inside.
“What is this Dean?” Sam asked as he looked around.
“Ours.” Dean answered. “Go pick a room.”
“What about Dad?” he asked warily and Dean sighed.
The fights between them had been getting worse as Sam got older. Sam didn’t want to hunt, he wanted a normal life but their Dad wouldn’t allow it. Dean had tried to find a middle ground between them, something Sam was willing to follow but their Dad always said no. Dean put the paperwork on the table, grateful the place was furnished and Sam picked them up, reading them with wide eyes. Dean was nineteen so technically a legal adult but what court had given him custody without even meeting them? “Dad’s been gone too long Sam. Even if he comes back he won’t find us. I thought things would get better but they haven’t, he won’t listen.” He admitted and Sam looked away. “Hey, it’s not your fault.”
They settled in quickly and Dean called Bobby to let him know what was going on. The man rang back two months later when John resurfaced but Dean refused to go back to him. He got part time work at a mechanics and Sam focused on his studies, but both kept up their skills as well. Just because they didn’t travel to hunt didn’t mean hunts didn’t show up on their doorstep from time to time.
Dean grinned and clapped wildly as Sam crossed the stage, Bobby and Jim beside him. Sam was top of his class, not that Dean had ever doubted it. They’d sent word to John but he hadn’t shown up or answered. Sam had even gotten a card from Harry who apparently no longer lived in Portland, a card with a gift card included. His genius little brother already had offers from three universities, including full scholarships. Once he’d decided Dean would put the house on the market and they would move to wherever the school was. He could work on cars anywhere, after all.
He couldn’t imagine what their lives would be like if they hadn’t met Harry, and he didn’t want to. They’d be on the road with John still, or ended up in foster care, or who knew what. They may have even died.
Three weeks later they left for Stanford. Dean helped Sam move into his dorm before settling into the two-bed apartment, Sam needed somewhere to sleep during the holidays after all.
“What should I do Dean?” Sam flopped on the couch and Dean shook his head.
“Do you love her Sammy?”
“I…yeah, I think I do.” He admitted, not looking up.
“Then what’s the problem kiddo? You know how to protect a place without it being obvious. She hasn’t realised yet. Jessica seems a really neat girl.” Dean offered and Sam smiled.
“I guess I need to find the real estate section of the paper.” He grinned and Dean laughed, clapping him on the back.
“So, get to work Mr big shot lawyer to be.” Dean teased and Sam rolled his eyes but opened his laptop and began looking for an apartment.
A month later he and Jessica had moved off campus and into a small apartment only a block away from Dean. Dean really liked Jess, she was good for Sam and it helped that she was utterly gorgeous. He really didn’t know how Sam had caught her eye but he was glad he had. He was looking forward to being the fun uncle in a few years.
“Hey Dean, you seen this?” Sam turned the laptop to let Dean see the article and he grinned.
“Way to go Nick. Guess that means he’s still in Portland, wanna try calling?”
“Vacations coming up.” Sam offered and Dean nodded.
“I can take a few days.” Dean agreed, since he managed the garage and had never taken a day off he had plenty of vacation time saved up. “Bringing Jess?”
“She’s headed home to see her family. You think Nick remembers us?” Sam asked and Dean shrugged.
“Well this is one way to find out.”
Nick opened the door and stared at the two men on the other side. “Hello?”
“Hi Nick, uh, don’t know if you remember us. Dean and Sam”
“Winchester.” Nick finished for him, grinning. “I don’t believe it… come in.” he pulled the door open wider and let them in. “What are you doing here?”
“Saw the article, congratulations.” Sam grinned and Nick blushed slightly.
“Thanks. So, what have you been doing?” he sat on a chair in the living room and they took the couch after stripping their jackets off.
“Well Sammy here is breezing through pre-law Stanford.” Dean answered proudly as they sat.
“Really? That’s great Sam. Bet your Dad’s really proud.” Nick smiled and then frowned when he noticed their reactions. “Is he…”
“No, at least as far as we know. Haven’t heard from him since I was nineteen. I got custody of Sam and we moved on. The Evans helped us get a place.”
“You’ve heard from Harry?”
“Not really, not since his Dad died in the crash, did you know?”
“Yeah, saw the article. Harry sent a card for Sam’s high school graduation but nothing since.”
“Aunt Marie was acting weird round when Mr Evans died. Harry left a few weeks later. There was a postcard from Japan of all places and an article on Eques Industries that mentioned him as owner. He’s been travelling a lot, no idea where he is now. He sent a package for my eighteenth, no idea what was in it though. Found the wrap in the garbage…I think maybe Aunt Marie intercepted anything from him, I just don’t know why.”
“Still living with her?” Dean asked and Nick shook his head.
“She left town when I started college. I think she travelled a lot when I was a kid, before my parents died. She sends emails, the occasional postcard. And she showed up last Christmas.” He shrugged. “So, what do you do Dean?”
“Manage a garage, nothing fancy.” The three relaxed and spent hours talking before they left for their motel. They spent five days in Portland, Nick playing tour guide as they laughed over fond memories, even going by the Evans house, which Harry still owned even if he was never there.
Sam walked into the apartment, tossing his keys on the table and slipping out of his jacket. He’d been helping Dean at the garage to keep his mind off the upcoming interview. He grinned as he found a plate of cookies and heard the shower running. “I’m home!” he called as he went into the bedroom and collapsed on the bed, eyes closed. Maybe he should join her in the shower? He blinked as something wet landed on his forehead, wiping it away. Another drop landed and he opened his eyes only to scream as he saw Jess pinned to the ceiling, blood dripping from her stomach. “JESS!”
Dean slammed into the room, gun in hand and froze as he saw them before pulling Sam away as the fire started.
“No! JESS!” he kicked and struggled but Dean pulled him clear. If the radio hadn’t gone weird passing the building he wouldn’t have stopped and Sam…. He got them outside and heard sirens as the smoke was reported. All he could do was hold his baby brother as his world crumpled. There was no question, it had to be the same thing that had killed their Mom, but why now? After almost twenty-two years why appear and kill Jess? It didn’t make any sense. But they would find out.
Chapter 3: An Orderly Life
Disclaimer: Not mine
An Orderly Life
At first glance, there was nothing special about Phil Coulson. Not even at the second glance did anything stand out. He was an only child, his parents, Robert and Julie, were loving parents to him. Robert was a history professor who also coached the high school football team, and Julie a vet. They had wanted more children but it wasn’t too be. They went to Mass every Christmas and Easter and Phil played baseball in Little League. He enjoyed it and was very good with a batting average over 0.400.
Phil’s secret love was everything Howling Commandos. He was a massive fan of Peggy Carter, and of course the Captain himself. For years he carefully saved and searched until he was able to buy a complete set of vintage Captain America collector cards. They were in mint condition and his pride and joy.
When Phil was eight Robert bought an old red corvette, and taught him how to tinker with it. Once he was old enough the car became his. When he was nine tragedy struck, Robert Coulson was killed in an accident on September 22, 1973. His Father’s death had a massive impact on Phil and he pulled away, throwing himself into his studies. In the end, he graduated high school with top marks and moved away from his home town of Manitowoc, Wisconsin to attend University at Culver University.
Phil had chosen a rather hard area of study but that didn’t deter him. He loved history, especially World War II, for Captain America, but he also really enjoyed the old myths of gods and heroes. That love led him to what he was writing a paper on, how the old SSR, Strategic Scientific Reserve, had begun and then changed over time. A lot of people said it had ended but Phil didn’t believe that and that belief had brought him to his advisor’s office.
“Phil, I am telling you, this area of study will get you nowhere.” Thomas tried to get him to pick any other topic, for the fourth time.
“I don’t believe that. My research shows the continued activity of an agency, maybe they changed their name over time, but I am certain the old SSR is still at work.”
“And if you don’t find proof this could end your academic career when you fail.”
“I thought it didn’t matter if you proved or disproves your point in a paper sir?” Phil asked calmly. Nothing much ruffled him anymore.
“Fine. Have it your way.” He finally gave up and Phil left to continue his research.
It wasn’t easy finding evidence of a hidden agency influencing history but once he found one time it was easier to follow the pattern to more. He was barely twenty and didn’t consider the consequences of what he was researching.
Nick frowned as he read the report that had landed on his desk, mentally sighing as he began to read. In the end, he was impressed. Worried, but impressed. This Phil Coulson had a knack for putting things together. He put in a request for a full background check, maybe he would make a good recruit.
Phil grabbed his bag and looked around the dorm, it was over. He’d graduated University just like his Dad had always hoped. The question was, what now? He could get a job as a history teacher, but that didn’t really call to him. He felt a little lost now. He left the room and headed for Lola, he could always go home until he decided what was next.
“Yes?” He looked at the rather imposing man.
“Agent Fury. I believe you are looking for a job.”
“Maybe.” He was curious but also wary. Fury held out a card and Phil took it, Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. “Never heard of it.”
“Funny, you wrote a pretty impressive paper on us.”
Phil froze in surprise. What? A paper…. his paper on the SSR and its possible successor? “Why would you want me?”
“We’re always on the lookout for good agents and you seem to have a knack for data analysis. What do you say?”
Phil looked down at the card and then up at the one-eyed agent. It was crazy but… “Yes.”
“Good. Report here by next Thursday.” He gave him another card and then left.
Phil looked at the card, Academy of Communications, well it sounded interesting at least.
Life at the Academy was never boring as he learnt to fight, with his hands or weapons, because even an analyst could never be assured of safety. Most of the physical training was overseen by one of the other academies, the Academy of Operations. In total, there were three specialised academies for the Division, all focusing on something different. And he finally felt like he had found somewhere he fit in. He had made several friends, including John Garrett from the Operations Academy. They got along well, Phil calm where John was fiery. He was looking forward to graduation and finding his place within the Division, maybe more out in the field than behind a computer.
“Agent Phil Coulson, Agent Melinda May.” Fury introduced and the two shook hands before he handed things over to the mission commander to begin the briefing for a retrieval operation in Sausalito. He watched the team leave, a bad feeling in his gut but he got back to work.
Melinda and Phil were sent into the coffee shop separately. Phil ordering coffee and settling in with a paper to keep watch while Melinda was the one to approach their target. He was nervous, it was his first time in the field, his gun heavy at his back as he tried to watch everything to protect his partner. That hyper-awareness allowed him to see the gun before it was fully pulled and he moved, pulling his own in order to protect her. Not that she really needed it as she reacted to Phil’s movement. She grabbed the man they’d come for and threw them both over the counter for cover as Phil upended a table for cover, taking a shot.
“We need an exit.” He called over the comm but there was silence. Where they hell was the commander? “May?” He called.
“I’ll cover you, go.” He called and then began shooting, pinning their opponent down while she ran out the back. They exchanged shots for a while before Phil heard sirens and it was obvious the man did too as he swore and went to leave but Phil shot him. “May?” He called and there was silence. He ducked out the back and soon came upon signs of a firefight. He broke into a run, not wanting to deal with the police with his partner missing. He went back to their temporary base to find the mission commander watching monitors. “Where was our exit?” Phil demanded.
“There wasn’t one.”
“That’s not good enough!” He snarled and then grabbed a vest and gear.
“Where are you going?”
“To find my partner.” He left and began searching the city for any sign of her. It took him five hours but he rented a boat and went to pull her and their target from the cold water.
“What took you so long?” She demanded as he made sure they were both rugged up in blankets.
“You didn’t exactly leave breadcrumbs,” he pointed out. That got a small smile from her as they headed back to dry land.
Phil didn’t mind, mostly being partnered with Melinda May, she was an excellent Agent. He’d even let her drive Lola once when it was needed. She wasn’t his only partner, he occasionally got partnered with John which usually meant a lot of shooting and explosions but he’d gotten used to it over the years.
Phil was always immaculately dressed in a suit, something John teased him about, saying it made him look like an accountant but he didn’t mind. He managed to stay cleaner in his suits then John in his combat gear.
Today was one of his days off and so he was at the Smithsonian, wandering the Captain America exhibit. He had never lost his hero worship for the Commandos. Two young boys caught his attention in front of the memorial for Sergeant Barnes, there didn’t appear to be an adult with them which was concerning. He moved closer to be safe.
“He was a real hero too, wasn’t he?” the younger whispered in awe.
“Yeah, he was,” the elder answered softly as he read the highly redacted mission list.
“I think…I’d want to be more like him, the one protecting his friends, than like Captain America.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that Nick. Not everyone can be the leader, the one who makes the tough decisions. They always need someone to watch their back.”
“He’s right. Captain America changed the world. But he couldn’t have done it without his best friend and the Commandos,” Phil spoke up from where he was watching them. “Where are your parents?” he asked, shifting his jacket to reveal his gold badge.
The sight of his badge relaxed them a little. “Dad’s in the cafeteria, he’s seen the exhibit before,” the elder answered politely.
“Alright then, just be careful boys.”
“We will, sir.”
Phil kept an eye on the two boys as they wandered through the museum, technically it was his day off but that didn’t mean he couldn’t keep an eye on things. Being a field agent was unlike anything he had ever imagined. That was why on his days off he came to places like this, to be reminded of why they did what they did. He smiled as he saw the two boys join an older man in the cafeteria, obviously excited to share everything they had learnt. Sometimes, seeing scenes like that made him wish for his own children. But field agents did not make good parents. And there wasn’t anyone he could see himself with, May was married after all.
He headed back to his small apartment to find a message waiting for him. He hit play and then collapsed on the couch in shock. His mother had died while he was at the museum. He shakily put a call in to arrange time off for the funeral. He was officially the last of his family and it hurt. He hadn’t seen her much since becoming an Agent and now she was gone. Nineteen years to the day since his Father had died.
Chapter 4: Substitute Shinigami
Ichigo's life had changed massively twice before, now it was time for a third time
Disclaimer: Don’t own Bleach or HP
I’ve only seen the anime up to invading Soul Society to save Rukia and some of the battles there. Anything later that is fact comes from online sources
Ichigo’s life had just changed massively for the third time and he just hoped this change would not leave anyone dead; a morbid thought maybe but it fit his life. The first change had been his Mother’s death, which he still partially blamed himself for. She had given her life for him after all. If he’d been able to tell the difference between the living and the dead he would never have approached the ‘ghost girl’. He’d been able to see the dead all his life, but that incident had been his first Hollow, even if he hadn’t realised it until he faced it again six years later. He still missed her every day, wished she had been there to see his sisters grow up.
The second change… there were some days he wished Rukia had never appeared in his bedroom but then his whole family would probably be dead. Or maybe she would have beaten the Hollow without him there to distract him. Then maybe his family wouldn’t have been dragged into things… though he doubted it. His Father would have regained his own powers eventually which would have meant he was easier for other Shinigami to find. And their family had been too closely watched by various powerful beings to ever have been left in peace. If Rukia hadn’t been injured that night, hadn’t given him her powers then most likely the results would have been even worse. He still felt guilty though over how it had changed his sisters… changed his friends. It was his fault they had developed their own powers thanks to exposure to his massive reserves of Reiatsu. Rukia had nearly been executed, Orihime had been kidnapped… how many times had he or one of his friends nearly died trying to stop Aizen? Or any of the enemies since? They had managed to defeat them all, so far.
Would he really trade the voices in his head for a possibly peaceful life? Yeah, they could drive him up the wall sometimes but he wasn’t sure what he’d do if they were gone forever, even if the old man had spent so long lying to him by pretending to be his Zanpakutō spirit when he was really his Quincy powers inherited from his Mum. He had missed them when he had lost his spiritual powers. Living alone in his head, unable to even sense a ghost let alone see them had been… strange and scary in a way. He’d tried to adapt and live his life but in the end regaining his powers had been a relief. He’d thought for so long that the actual Zangetsu was merely his inner Hollow and had in a way hated his presence as a reminder of how he had almost failed to regain his Shinigami powers during Urahara’s training.
Things had been peaceful in the last few years, letting him go through college without fighting more than the occasional Hollow. They had all moved on since the last battle with Yhwach, separating to live their own lives. He’d gone to college, Rukia and Renji had gotten married, Sado had become a famous boxer, Uryū a doctor at Karakura Hospital… and now Ichigo was joining Eques Industries.
It was strange, to think of having a real job like that… he’d never imagined himself working in an office as a kid. Honestly, he’d always figured he’d die facing one of his opponents as a Shinigami. How many times had he nearly died? He’d lost count over the years.
Meeting Harry Evans had been the third big change, though he hadn’t realised it at first. He’d been suspicious of the teen, there was something about him… some strange feeling of power. He’d suspected he was a Shinigami actually although he’d never shown any sign of being consciously aware of his power. He was an enigma, so when Yuzu had shown more than friendly interest in him he had not been happy but he had simply watched from the sidelines. Renji had done some digging for him, quietly, and found nothing suspicious while he and Rukia had confirmed Harry was very much alive.
In the last two years, the teen had become good friends with his family and he had to admit he was a decent kid. How he managed high school and running a company… he preferred having to fight for his life over something like that. He would be sad to see him go but Harry did deserve to see the world and experience life before getting really tied down by the company.
The job offer had been a complete shock, though a welcomed one. He had been at loose ends since graduating, had applied for several jobs with no luck. He’d moved back home and helped out around the clinic to keep busy, helping Harry learn as well. He wanted to use his degree, to be able to support a family of his own. He wanted to be able to propose to Orihime but he was wary to do so without a means of supporting her and a possible family. Orihime had a job of her own, working in a bookstore, and he knew she didn’t expect him to support them but he wanted to ensure a safe, happy life for her. Eques was a growing company, even with such a young owner, and it was gaining a reputation as a fair, ethical company and an excellent employer. It was an excellent opportunity.
Ichigo got up and sat on his bed, beneath his window and looked out at the street. How many times had he sat on his bed as a teen, looking for the next threat or a sign of Rukia? He looked back at the desk and got up, moving over he picked up the contract and signed it.
Chapter 5: Many Meetings
Just because Harry is gallivanting around the Milky Way, doesn't mean the work on Earth stops.
BTW - Family Business has been edited in the scene with Nick
Disclaimer: Don’t own them, just having fun playing with them
Methos parked the rental jeep and proceeded on foot, thankful that Harry had left him the information on security from his own trip as a young child. He’d always suspected there was more to the site than modern man suspected but he had not been anywhere near Britain during the time of Camelot. He finally slipped into the circle and found the activation for the Rings where Harry had said, able to see past the magic on it because Harry had told him. He activated the Rings and was transported beneath the surface. He found himself inside the listening station and bowed to the woman who appeared before him. “Greeting Lady le Fay.”
“Welcome Methos, we have much to discuss.”
“Good thing I packed a bag then.” She led him to the main console and he sat to read over the reports and discuss what to do now that Harry had left Earth. She was able to confirm the activation of the Antarctic Astria Porta a week ago. With the young Commander gone it left Methos as the only non-AI to know the truth.
Ianto Jones may be the Company President, but it was the Immortal who had been left in charge of continuing Harry’s true work. As such he had accepted the position of PA to Harry Evans in order to give him access to the company, Harry had even offered him the use of his birth name so that he was now Adam Potter. The Watchers may know Adam Pierson was an immortal, but he had been pushing it using that identity as long as he had, he was looking too good for his age. As far as the world was concerned, Adam Pierson had died in a car crash on a dangerous back road.
“Do you think this ‘mutant high’ would provide recruits once Harry goes looking?” Methos asked two days later as he looked at the information that had been gathered on Xavier’s.
“Perhaps, mutants are not well received by the world. Eques could offer them gainful employment other than the school. Avalon would offer them a way to use their powers for good and show the world they will defend it. They could use the ‘good press’.”
“I’d like to see the place for myself at some point.” To his knowledge he’d never met a mutant, not that he would know unless their mutation was physical. He had no room to throw stones, if they wanted to live in peace among them then he saw no problem.
“The Commander has offered to find them a doctor as theirs is recently deceased. I believe he had marked down some options.”
“I’ll look into them and then go see the school.” He went back to reading all the catalogued information she had. Some of the data had him curious, she had admitted having limited access to Earth systems…some of it would suggest otherwise, or she had another source out there.
The information on WWII was very interesting, he had avoided the war by living in Ghana. War had come to the continent but had been limited, allowing most of the continent to live in peace. Even there though, he had heard of the incredible Captain America and his feats against Hydra and the Nazis. Here was a copy of the man’s service record! Something he knew was still partially top secret. The Smithsonian had a redacted copy on display in their Captain America exhibition. Her files on Hydra were just scary. The Nazis had been bad enough but Hydra? Yeah, he was glad he’d been well away from that fight. Who knew what this ‘Red Skull’ would have done with access to an Immortal. America and Britain claimed Hydra had been exterminated in the decade after Captain America’s death…the more historical documents he read the less sure of that he was. An organisation like that could easily have gone underground. And when he read about SHIELD, well he knew at least one place the organisation could be hiding. Hydra, and even SHIELD, could be an issue in recreating Avalon. SHIELD seemed to think they had the right to anything and everything they wanted, there were records of them taking research from scientists without a by your leave and if they protested… he was surprised SHIELD hadn’t gone after anyone in Eques yet, but he doubted that would last considering where Harry had the scientists experimenting.
Then there was the magical world that Harry had been born to. It had changed a lot from what Morgana had shown him of Camelot. It had stagnated in many ways, especially in Britain. When they realised that Eques had a lot of ‘muggleborn’ on staff and worked to incorporate magic and technology, as it once was, they would throw a collective fit and come after Harry and those employees. If that happened then Harry may need to claim his position as High King of Albion, no matter how much he didn’t want to.
So much could go wrong if they moved too fast but they had limited time until Earth had to be ready to defend itself. Move too fast and end up fighting against who knew how many organisations, move to slow and the Earth could fall. No pressure.
“Yes?” Isshin took in the man who had entered his clinic. He was definitely a foreigner, well dressed and polite.
“I work for Eques Industries,” Methos told the man and saw the look of surprise.
“Young Harry’s company? Is he alright?”
“To my knowledge he is, he is still enjoying travelling the world. I am his Personal Assistant, Potter Adam. Is this a good time to talk?”
Isshin nodded and led him into his office where they sat. “What do you want to talk about?”
“Eques Industries keeps an eye on our employees’ families, just to ensure their safety. Due to some of the work there are other companies and such that would not hesitate to use family to get an employee to give up secrets. As such, we are aware your daughters would like to attend an American University, for at least a year. Your son is also going to be offered a promotion to the New York office soon as that is to become the company’s Headquarters. The timing has worked well to present you with an offer, not with the company. Harry is very interested in helping out worthy causes, one of those is a private school in Westchester, New York. The school lost its doctor a while ago and they have been looking for a new one, your name is the only one left on Harry’s list.”
Isshin listened carefully. He had known the girls wanted to go to America, they had ever since meeting Harry and hearing his stories of the country. He was proud that his son was being offered a promotion, and to the head office at that, even if it meant moving to another country. So, an offer that would mean moving there as well? Yes, it was tempting but the idea of leaving the place he and Masaki had called home? Where they had their family? It was not easy. “Why have they had trouble filling the position? Surely there are many doctors would jump at the chance.”
“For a normal private school then yes, but Xavier’s is not a normal school,” Methos leant back in the chair to really study the man, he did not look old enough to have fully grown children and Harry’s notes had said that he had sensed something from the whole family. Perhaps they were mutants? The world was full of so many beings, who knew. “The school has children aged between six and eighteen plus the staff. All of them, are mutants.”
Ah, that explained the lack of applicants. He knew about mutants, there had been a meeting or two about them when he was a Captain and they had become more prevalent. Thankfully they could not see ghosts or hollows and their souls were no different to deal with than a baseline human. So really, it all came down to whether he was willing and able to move. He knew the only reason he hadn’t faced punishment for faking his death to live as a human was because Soul Society owed Ichigo far too much to try. Few would want to face his son if they had tried. “Would I be living on campus?”
Methos smiled, that wasn’t a yes, but it was hopeful. “Yes, that way you would be on hand if needed at night. There is a block of buildings that were once servant’s quarters for the mansion the school is housed within. That would give you at least one other bedroom free for your girls during holidays or other visitors. Some staff live in those, others stay inside the mansion to be closer to the students, here is the information packet I was given by the new Headmistress,” he handed over the file and waited patiently as Isshin read through it.
“This is a decision I need to speak with my children about, but provisionally I am open to accepting.”
“Thank you, I will be in town for the next week or you can email me, my details are on the back.” They shook, and Methos left the man to mull things over.
Ororo opened the door as the taxi pulled up, she watched as a tall, muscular man got out, taking in the dark hair and thin facial hair. The driver retrieved a bag and then the man walked up the stairs towards her. “Dr Kurosaki, I’m Ororo Monroe, welcome to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.”
“Thank you,” he shook her hand. “This is a really beautiful campus.”
“We think so, this was the family home of the Xavier’s. Charles turned it into a school back in the sixties.” She opened the door to her office and they went inside. “I understand you own your own clinic in Japan?”
“Yes, our home was connected to the clinic and all three of my children worked there at various times over the years. My eldest, Ichigo, is being offered a position in New York and my daughters have expressed a wish to spend time at an American University, it seems the right time to move on.”
“And the nature of the school is no problem?”
“None at all,” he promised, and they continued discussing things for several hours before she showed him to the infirmary to look around, the above ground one anyways. Maybe he would be shown the underground facilities in time.
Chapter 6: Awaiting his Return
the world waits for the COmmander's return in the midst of tragedy
Disclaimer: Not mine
Awaiting his Return
Methos grinned as he watched from an upper balcony as the Ei1 phone was launched to the public. This was really the company’s first big tech release, and everyone was excited as the press entered the foyer of the new New York Head office skyscraper. The phone looked very different to other ‘smartphones’ on the market. It had a full touch screen and weighed a measly 170grams. They came in a variety of colours and could do a lot more than just make calls or send texts. The phone was a sealed unit to protect the company’s secrets, the phone had very few of the normal chips and circuit boards, instead there were tiny crystals and runes, a mix of backwards engineered Avalon tech and magic. If trouble was going to come from either Shield or the magical world this would likely bring it. If someone did manage to crack open the case the phone would self-destruct, without risk to anyone around.
He was just happy he wasn’t the one down there talking up the phone, that was Ianto’s job and he did it well. The last thing he needed was that kind of publicity. What would really annoy the other companies though was something that Ianto wouldn’t announce today…. the price of the phone. At $190 for the most basic model, they were going to have the other companies mad since they made a killing on the higher tech phones. They were giving the people a reliable, affordable smart phone and would make a lot of money as people learnt of the phones capabilities and changed to them.
Ichigo watched the launch from a crowd of other employees. The legal department had been buried in the work generated by the launch, ensuring the technology was legally protected. It was not easy adapting to living in a new country but his whole family had moved which made it easier, even if he lived in the city and they were out in the country. Next month they would be returning to Japan for his wedding to Orihime. He was nervous about it, but he had been assured that was normal. They had come a long way since he had purified the Hollow of Orihime’s brother to save her and Tatsuki back in school. They had been through a lot since then, how many times had he died or been mortally wounded? But she had always been there, ready to heal or shield them from danger. Soul Society had left them mostly alone since the end of the war against Yhwach, except for their friends occasionally visiting, he’d visited himself a handful of times. He still trained, though that had gotten harder since the move and no easy access to Urahara’s training room, and he would handle a Hollow if one showed up, but they seemed rather rare in New York.
Ianto sighed and looked over at Adam, the last few months had been very hectic with the launch of their first mobile phone. He envied Adam for being able to remain in the background, but he had agreed to the job, he just hadn’t realised exactly how powerful Eques would become. He was really looking forward to Harry returning, yes he would be attending University but he could at least deal with some of the paperwork.
“Do you really need to ask? Any word from Harry?”
“Not yet, I’m not expecting anything for at least another ten months or so.”
“Great. I was hoping he could handle the meeting with Obadiah Stane next month.”
“Mmm. He’s hoping to get a foot in the door with the tech that enabled us to make the Ei1.”
“I know, but I still have to play nice with the man.”
“It could be worse,” Adam smirked, “could be a meeting with Stark himself.”
“No thank you,” Ianto shuddered. “So, why are you digging into the San Diego mess?”
“Because it stinks of a cover story and I found a link to the late John Hammond’s InGen. InGen has since been swallowed up by Simon Masrani. They have been doing something off the coast of Costa Rica where there were a lot of weird stories during the time InGen was also working there. A plane carrying a noted palaeontologist, Dr Alan Grant, went down in the region a few months back, thankfully they were found alive. He was also in the area back in the mid 90’s. I was considering buying shares for Harry, not the company, but I want to know more about what the hell’s going on first.”
“Hmm…All I really know is there was an impressive damage bill and number of deceased or injured in San Diego. Be careful using company resources to look into it, we don’t need to go up against Masrani.”
“Understood.” The door opened and they both looked over in surprise at being interrupted. “Mary?”
Ianto’s secretary pointed and they both looked out the window, staring in horror as a passenger plane flew right into a building. Adam pushed them both down to the ground as the shockwave from the impact rattled their windows.
Ianto scrambled up to press the building intercom. “This is Ianto Jones, everyone drop what you are doing and make your way to the emergency bunker. Now!” he quickly removed his laptop and grabbed his jacket as Adam hauled Mary up and the three of them ran from the office.
Merlin and Morgana watched as the world stopped in shock. They began doing what they could to help, slipping information into various systems to help track down those responsible, both wishing they could do more, that their Commander was there to act.
“Excuse me Miss Monroe but I need to request time off.”
Ororo looked form the TV to the man in her office doorway in confusion before it clicked. “Your son is in the city.”
“Yes, but I can also help as a Doctor.”
“Go, we can manage the students….in fact, pack what you need, and I’ll make sure you have a speedy trip,” Ororo offered so he left, and she contacted Logan to gather a team to go into the city and help with the recovery and clean up.
Nick watched the TV in shock, hoping his Aunt wasn’t in New York. Classes had been suspended for the week at least as students made panicked calls to family around the country. Seeing everything that was happening just reinforced his desire to become a police officer, then he would be able to help people during disasters like this. He had to get his degree first though. He grabbed his phone and dialled his Aunt’s number, relieved when she answered and said she was in Ohio. The phone had arrived at his dorm one day, a note from Adam Potter saying it was complimentary as he was as good as Harry’s family. He didn’t know why Aunt Marie had been obviously blocking contact between them and now she had left he still couldn’t contact Harry because apparently, he was travelling the world with no phone or email. He’d tried a few times to track down Dean and Sam, but they moved around too much.
Thaddeus Ross was a patriot, he believed in everything America stood for. He did think that Colonel Chester Phillips and the various scientists had wasted Captain America. They should have tried harder to recreate the serum, done more tests on the man. Hell, if they’d had tighter security Hydra wouldn’t have been able to assassinate Erskine and they could have had battalions of super soldiers. The SSR should have remained after the war to continue the work, instead the government had disbanded them. He’d heard rumours of an Agency that had taken their place, but he didn’t listen to rumours. No, he would find a way to replicate the serum or create something better to ensure the safety of America. The world would learn not to attack them. It would begin with the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project.
T’Challa moved through the crowds, easily joining in on the recovery efforts. He may not bear the mantle of Black Panther yet but that did not mean he could not help. He had already reassured his family back in Wakanda that he was fine, he had been in class when the terrorists hit, at Columbia University. He was continuing the tradition of attending University outside of Wakanda to learn more of the world before returning home to begin taking on more responsibilities. He had ensured he stayed clear of any news crews, it was very unlikely they would realise who he was, but he did not want to chance it or worry his family should they see footage with him in the background. There was a lot of nervous talk as a group of mutants joined in but soon they were being enthusiastically welcomed as they used their powers to help. Perhaps his people could do more to help protect the world from terrorists like this.
Pepper watched as her boss worked on the newest designs, weapons capable of things that honestly scared her. Even in the hands of the US military things like the proposed Jericho missiles were just too much as far as she was concerned. Why couldn’t he pay more attention to other methods of keeping America safe? There had to be other ways.
Eques Industries launched a new laptop computer and also experimental body armour for emergency services, designed to protect them from debris, flames, bullets, whatever the scientists could conceive. The runes that made it possible were very well concealed and the armour was made out of a mix of lightweight metals and a crystalline substance they had accidentally created when messing around with crystals for the computers. The armour was still experimental but that was what on the job testing was for.
On the Dark Side of the Moon a hyperspace window opened, flashing purple against the black of space as a massive ship moved into normal space, well hidden from Earth by the bulk of the moon. On Earth in two locations communications boards lit up.
“Welcome home Commander.”