It was a rare moment of peace, after the upheaval caused by their father’s death. Thor hadn’t really thought much about the fact Loki claimed Odin Allfather as his father until now, when the fighting was said and done. There was upheaval in Asgard, yes, but a new threat was sure to emerge, one their mother told them about: so long as Odin had been alive, there was an unknown sister who had been banished that he had kept away. But with his death, it was unknown if she would stay away as long as Frigga was on the throne or if her arrival would come as foretold.
Hela was bloodthirsty, their mother said, and only the destruction of Asgard would suffice to draw away her power. For now, having Frigga on the throne was enough, but if it would last…
Thor and Loki had left a meeting in their mothers quarters and were walking back to the grand hall, both lost in their silence. “You don’t want to stay in Asgard,” Loki said quietly.
“No,” Thor said. “I feel more comfortable on Earth. And you?”
“I doubt I would be accepted on Earth, as punishment of my past actions. But I do not deserve to rule Asgard, either. That is your right. Or...hers.”
“As our eldest sister, that is true, but it would be ill-fated for her to rule,” Thor pointed out. “As Mother said, the destruction of Asgard would be needed to let her bloodlust be sated.”
“Then why not destroy Asgard?” Loki asked, stopping in his tracks. “If Earth is more your home than Asgard, then let us move Asgard to Earth.”
“The entire planet, brother?” Thor said, the corner of his mouth quirking up.
“What was it Mother said? Asgard is a people, not a place. If that’s true, then it may not work. But if our sister is to draw her powers from the planet and the planet is no more...”
“It would take negotiations with the Earth’s government,” Thor mused. “I wonder if it would be alright to summon the Son of Coul for help, now that we know he is not dead, though I suspect Sif was not to tell us.”
“You have proven yourself a good negotiator in times past,” Loki pointed out. “Have mother go with you. Or bring Earth’s representatives come here to show what we can offer Earth if we are given a chance to go there.”
“Would you come with us?” Thor asked, turning to look at Loki.
“If I am allowed, yes,” Loki said. “I do not wish to abandon my family again.”
Thor thumped Loki’s shoulders from across his back. “Then let us turn around and suggest your plan to mother. Perhaps this might save us all in the end."
-- One Week Later --
Molly groaned as she spied Coulson on her doorstep when she opened the door to her home. “You sound altogether too chipper for this early in the morning.”
He held up a cup of coffee. “I come bearing a royal invitation to another planet.”
Molly gave him a flat stare. “Yes. It’s far too early for this.” She took the coffee and moved to let him in. Coulson opened his mouth to speak again but she held up a finger and took a long sip of her coffee. When she was done, she looked at him. “I take it there are ways to get to Asgard?”
“With the help of Jane Foster,” Coulson said with a nod. “But first, I’m being asked to assemble a team to protect the ambassadors who are going to see if there’s a way we can migrate the population of Asgard to Earth to stave off the Apocalypse.”
“Ours or theirs?”
“Theirs. We thought Loki was bad. Apparently, they have an older sister who’s worse.”
Molly’s brows scrunched slightly. “I thought Thor said Loki was adopted.”
“Well, apparently a lot has changed. Brief rundown, Loki was imprisoned until something happened to Jane and someone tried to kill her in Asgard. Loki helped save the day, much to everyone’s surprise, but Odin, the King? He died. Their mother is on the throne now and she informed them about the sister their father kept hidden.”
“And I thought my family history was complicated.” She had another sip of her coffee. “Why ask me?”
“Well, I wanted to have a few people with expertise beyond protection. I know you did protection details in your time in S.H.I.E.L.D., but you’re also medically proficient. You could be a help to the government officials who aren’t going to get everything they see.”
“Who else do you have so far?”
“Jane Foster, obviously. My team, so that means I have Fitzsimmons on the science side and Skye as a tech specialist. I was hoping I could get you, Sherlock and Mary to agree?”
“Mary’s in the middle of wedding planning,” she said. “But I think Sherlock would be amenable. He’s between cases at the moment.” She paused. “What about Mycroft?”
“Well, he’s had some field training, but he’s...I mean, is it just politicians associated with S.H.I.E.L.D. who are going? Because even though we’re in the open again, there’s still mistrust. Having Mycroft there as a neutral party representing the British would bolster things. And perhaps a Senator friendly to us but not associated with us.”
“It’s easier to find a Senator associated with HYDRA than it is S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Coulson said wryly, “but we’re weeding them out. Slowly and surely.”
“Yes, Natasha was telling me since she and Clint aren’t hunting metahumans anymore. I gather Clint is a lot happier to be in one place, more or less.”
“He misses his farm, though. That’s the complaint I’m hearing now.”
“Are they coming as well?” Molly asked before having more coffee.
“Well, they aren’t really on my team, and I think Nat is busy, but if you want Clint to join us I can promise him a week in his cabin in exchange.” He paused. “Tony Stark expressed interest. If anyone is going to get the tech the best, it would be him.”
“I haven’t seen him in an age,” Molly said, perking up. “He should come as well.”
“Then I think our team is settled. If Clint’s got a bow and arrow and Tony has his suit, we have representatives from the Avengers who can double for protection detail.” He nodded to the coffee. “Enjoy that. You’ve got a busy few days ahead of you. Everyone will be here in London tomorrow by 0800 and then it’s off to Jane’s lab to meet with Thor and his brother.”
“I don’t know how I feel about working with Loki, but if he’s trusted by Thor, and Thor is an Avenger, I suppose that’s enough for me.” She nodded towards the door. “I’ll make sure Sherlock and I are ready and wherever you need us to be tomorrow.”
“There was a reason you were always my favorite,” Coulson said with a grin, standing up.
“Don’t say that around Melinda. She says I’m her favourite and I don’t think she wants to share,” she said with a smile. Coulson grinned even wider and then put his sunglasses on and headed out the door, leaving Molly to her morning coffee and a prospect she had never thought she would experience: a trip to another planet.
To Coulson’s eyes, it looked as though the assembled team of his looked like a bunch of kids going on a cool school field trip and their jaded chaperones. It was pretty easy to tell who the science fanatics were by who was most excited. He didn’t seem at all surprised, however, to find Fitz and Leo fawning over Tony Stark, who was fawning back in some measure. That was probably the only surprise...at least so far.
He moved over to where Clint and Molly were standing, saw they were in heavy conversation, and then moved over to Sherlock and his brother. “Glad you could join us, Mr. Holmes. And you too, Mycroft.”
Sherlock snorted a quick laugh and then covered it up while Mycroft glared. “There were many others above my pay grade who could be coming,” Mycroft said.
“Mycroft it’s an alien planet. While I may have been obsessed with pirates as a child, you were the one who enjoyed alien invasion movies? Well, congratulations. You’re among the first humans aside from Ms. Foster to go to an alien planet in your lifetime.”
Mycroft looked a bit more mollified at that. “It does seem more adventurous than bureaucratic work when you put it that way,” he said.
“Trust me, there are enough politicians going with that you’ll get bored of us and drift back to them,” Coulson said, adjusting his sunglasses. “Though I hear the science is pretty interesting. Supposedly the offers of technology that Thor and Loki are saying would be available to the world is pretty spectacular.”
“But how much depends on the planet’s resources and how much can be replicated here?” Mycroft asked.
“Make sure you ask that question when the other politicians are all glazed over with the spectacle,” Coulson said, clapping Mycroft on the back. He moved away over to those on his own personal team and motioned for them to move away from Stark and, in Skye’s case, away from Darcy Lewis, who was coming along with Jane. The two of them looked cozy and he felt a trickle on panic at the back of his neck. “So we have some muscle, some clout and whatnot, but I need you all to be alert. We’ve had run-ins with their tech and we know Sif, which is an in for us, but still.”
“Who should we be sticking closest to?” Triplett asked.
Coulson thought for a moment. “Let Molly handle Mycroft. They’re practically family, and she’s got a good grasp on how to deal with both Holmes brothers at once. May, Trip, you stay with the politicians. I’ll have Barton join you if trouble breaks out. Fitz, Simmons, I know you want to stay near Stark, so you two and Skye can cover the scientists with Stark as your muscle. I’ll keep my eye on the Odinson brothers.”
“You still don’t trust Loki, do you?” Melinda asked.
“Not by a long shot, but we saw what that cube under his power did to Barton and Selvig. Thor thinks he was under its influence too, so there’s that. I’m willing to forgive, I suppose, just not forget.” He looked around. “As soon as they show up, move discretely into your groups and stick with them as long as we’re on Asgard. Remember, the kingdom at large doesn’t know what we know about the imminent threat, and neither do the politicians, for the most part. This whole venture is kind of a Hail Mary in that it might stop the sister if there’s no Asgard left.”
“You really think that the governments of the world will allow the whole entire planet to be blown up?” Jemma asked.
“It’s not our planet and we’re taking refugees if it all works out,” Coulson said. “Asgard may keep for a time until we can get what the Asgardians need, but right now? Not our planet, not our choice.”
The assorted team nodded and that was when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Molly had come over. “Sorry to interrupt your team meeting, But Jane said they should arrive at any moment.”
Coulson nodded. “You heard what Agent Hooper said. Get ready.” Almost as soon as he was done speaking an incredibly bright light filled the area, causing almost everyone to reach for sunglasses or look away, and then he grinned as the light dissipated and it was just Thor there. “Oh, he made a good choice,” he murmured.
“No brother?” Molly asked.
“Exactly.” They moved closer, Molly going back to the Holmes brothers as though she’d heard Coulson’s instructions, and Coulson went to Thor. “Thor Odinson.” He held out his hand, to which Thor smiled greatly and pulled him into a brotherly-type embrace.
“Son of Coul! You live! I thought Sif had been mistaken, but no, it is indeed you.”
“Yeah, well, things happened but yeah, I’m alive,” he said as he hugged Thor back. Then he took a moment to compose himself and gestured to the politicians, scientists, and his team. “Is this too many people?”
“No, there are not too many,” Thor said. “My mother and brother await in the golden halls of the palace. Shall we?” Thor gestured to the intricate symbols on the ground. “If all of you would gather in the circle, it would be much appreciated and a far easier job for Heimdall.” They all began to move towards the circle, Jane giving Thor a quick kiss on the cheek before he reached over for her hand, and once they were all inside the confines of the circle, Thor spoke again. “We are ready, Heimdall!” The light enveloped them again, and they traveled across what felt like a rainbow tube where they didn’t need to move, and then suddenly it was all gone and they were walking into a golden building and seeing a large black man with a sword in a machine that he was turning. “Friends, representatives...welcome to Asgard.”
The group of politicians and the scientists were equally awed by the things they saw, and Molly was quite interested in it herself, but unlike Sherlock and Mycroft, she was here more to protect the assorted group of people from Earth rather than being there to judge whether it would be in Earth’s best interest to take in the Asgardians as refugees. She hung back, admiring the childlike glee on both Sherlock and Mycroft’s faces as they saw some of the things the Asgardians were capable of.
“They call it magic,” Jane said, coming up to her. Thor was busy and it seemed Jane wasn’t as in awe as the others, even her assistant, but then she’d spent time on Asgard. Had her very DNA changed, according to Natasha. Whether there would be lasting effects would remain to be seen. “I mean, it is all explainable as highly theoretical science, but here, it’s magic.”
“The things they’ve shown us...Earth would put them to good use,” Molly said.
“And Thor has said there will be hefty promises needing to be made and kept in order to use them so they don’t fall into the wrong hands,” Jane said. “I think his mother will be working out the agreements and Thor will be enforcing them with S.H.I.E.L.D.”
“That’s good to know,” Molly said with a smile.
“You don’t look as...impressed,” Jane said.
“Oh no, that’s not the case,” Molly said with a soft chuckle. “My interests lie in pathology. This is all very exciting, but...not my field. I had my hands full when they were in London and that was fascinating, to me.”
“I think Thor still feels bad for all that,” Jane said. “This was part of his way to make amends.”
“And it’s a good one,” Molly agreed. “Loki said something about treasures being distributed to various governments with Norway getting the bulk for housing the refugees?”
Jane nodded. “That seems to be a popular suggestion, and each government would get what is best suited for them to display and protect. But yes, the Norwegian prime minister keeps trying to talk Frigga’s ear off about the treasure, but Loki I think has it under control.”
“You don’t like him much, do you?” Molly asked.
“I trust him, though, so there’s that,” Jane said. “His mother and he saved my life when I was here. It cost Odin his life, but their illusory magic skills bought enough time for me to be hidden from Malekith. And Loki, in particular, swore his vengeance for the death of Odin. I don’t think he really considered him his father again until that moment.”
“I suppose it could be worse. Phil I know has concrete reasons to hate him, and yet he seems to have forgiven him.” They were joined then by Clint. “Bored?”
“Sif is talking about showing the politicians the battle prowess of the armies of Asgard, and I don’t know whether they’re ready to see it or are going to cream their pants knowing the army is coming with the refugees. That might be a sticking point in negotiations.”
“I’ll speak to Mycroft, then,” Molly said as she uncrossed her arms. “If anyone can get all sides to listen to reason, it’s the British governmental agent with almost as much power as the Queen.” Molly moved aside towards the Holmes brothers, leaving Clint and Jane alone.
“You have reason to dislike Loki too, don’t you?” Jane asked. “Thor mentioned you were involved in things before the Battle of New York.”
Clint nodded, his lips in a thin line. “I’m not quite on the forgiveness bandwagon, but if there was a number being played on Loki’s mind too, and he’d been around it all longer...” He let his words trail off. “He steps out of line today, though, and I’m going to have a lot of fun playing stick the arrow in the traitor.”
“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” she said. “And I don’t think it will; his main quarrel was with Odin. His mother...she has his complete allegiance.”
“And Thor, if she ever steps down?” Clint asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I think Thor does as well. They are back to being the brothers they used to be, without the competitiveness.” She pointed over to Darcy and Loki, who were speaking quietly on the fringes of the group. “And I think Darcy has her eye on him, so there’s that.”
“Is that so?” Clint asked, huffing out a slight laugh. “Coulson told us about her and her tendency to taze those who irritate her.”
“And she has a fully loaded tazer on her. She heard about what happened here to me, she wants to defend herself. So you may not get to make a pincushion out of Loki if he steps out of line.”
“Shame, that,” Clint said as Thor began speaking and leading the group to the training grounds. “Maybe some other time.”
“Maybe,” Jane said before looping an arm through Clint’s. “I bet there’s an archery ground around here. Let’s talk Thor into letting you show off.”
“I like the way you think, Foster,” Clint said, a real smile blossoming on his face. Jane grinned back and they headed along with the group.
“Well, brother, this seems to be going well,” Thor said as he and Loki stood near the throne as their mother was greeting the delegates from Earth. He knew their mother was known as “The Beloved” by many in the kingdom, and it seemed she was much beloved by even the delegates with the hardest of shells; for instance, he had heard that Mycroft was a very staid individual from the doctor who helped run S.H.I.E.L.D. in England, but he seemed to be hanging on her every word. Then he noticed Loki had not made a comment, either a sarcastic one or not. He turned and saw Loki’s attention was on the very beautiful, though not his type, companion of Jane, Darcy Lewis. “Loki.”
“What?” Loki said, or rather snapped, as he turned to look at his brother.
“She would make a good companion for you, as long as she doesn’t use her taser on you. Those dastardly machines hurt.”
“Pain isn’t always a bad thing,” Loki mused.
Thor grinned and shook his head slightly. “You’re smitten.”
“What? No,” he said. “I could have any woman in Asgard, aside from Sif. Her intentions have always been towards you.”
Thor cast a glance at Sif, who was standing near their mother, a polite smile on her face. “She does not want to leave Asgard, but she is putting on a face for the good of us all.”
“A conversation with Heimdall changed her mind, as did a trip,” Loki said. “She went to that Son of Coul you’ve talked about and asked to join their organization. I take it they have a history.”
“So she will not remain with us?”
“I don’t know,” he said, pursing his lips together. “She may stay wherever we relocate and only go when SHIELD needs her. The Warriors Three will probably follow her lead, as they all tend to stick together.”
“Then that is good for the Son of Coul,” Thor said. “I will be staying with the Asgardians for a time to make sure things are well, but then I will be going to New York again, to stay in the tower that Stark built.” He smirked a bit when Loki made a face. He had admitted, on one of the rare occasions since their father’s death that he allowed himself to imbibe too much, that the Hulk had nearly broken his body by slamming him on the floor of the penthouse over and over. The mental image it had conjured in Thor’s mind made up for many of the childhood stabbings and mayhem he had lived through with his brother.
“I know I will remain with the Asgardians and Mother,” he said, turning back to look at Darcy again.
“You do not need to. I know Jane trusts you begrudgingly, as do the others. Allow yourself to remain under my supervision for a time. Stay in New York with me and prove you have turned over the leaf you say you have.”
Loki pulled his gaze away and tilted his head to the side as he thought about it. “Perhaps,” he said. “Though what will there be there for me to do?”
“I’m unsure for now, but you are, in some ways, more powerful than I am. You inherited powers from Laufey, and you learned magic from Mother and trained with some of the best Asgardians in battle techniques. And you are a strategist; you almost won the battle in New York.”
“Yes, but that was under the influence of the scepter,” Loki said as he frowned.
“Do not let what I am about to say go to your head, but Loki, you are a genius. You’ll find a way to fit in with the Avengers.” Thor clapped a hand on his brother’s shoulder and then turned him to Darcy’s direction, where she was talking with two of the people who worked with the Son of Coul, Skye and the man who asked to be called Tripp. “Go ask to speak to her. Make conversation again. I can stay if Mother needs one of us.”
Loki nodded and then made his way over to them. He looked awkward at first, Thor noted, but then Darcy’s eyes widened and she grabbed his arm and dragged him over to something that interested her as her former conversationalists looked on in amusement. Thor debated staying where he was and then moved to the two of them. Sif had more history with Skye than he did, and she spoke highly of the girl.
“Have you seen anything that has impressed you?” he asked the two of them.
“I’d kill to see if I can adapt some of this technology to SHIELD,” Skye said with a grin. “Not that I’m going to, but I would.”
Thor chuckled at that. “It will be interesting to see how what we consider magic will blend with your science,” he said. “I know Jane has many plans and my mother is choosing to let her have free reign over whatever she wants to use.”
“Kind of helps to be dating the next king,” Tripp said.
“Our relationship does give her some advantages, yes. But I am sure similar advantages can be worked out for those of you at SHIELD. Sif has vouched for most of you.”
“That’s good,” Skye said. “I like her. I think she’ll be a good addition to the team when we need her.”
Thor let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. Perhaps things between him and Sif wouldn’t change so drastically and they could still spend time as the friends he considered them. He almost missed the conversation Tripp was continuing.
“...and I think May likes him too,” he said.
Skye made a scoffing sound. “Nope. May and Coulson are like Mom and Dad. They’ll end up together. I’ll bet you twenty bucks.”
“You’re on,” Tripp said, extending his hand. Skye shook it and then they were called over to some of the other members of their team. “I think this is all going to work out,” he said to Thor as Skye walked off. “Tell Sif we want to talk later? I mean, you and the Warriors Three and even Loki can come. But we thought we’d hit a pub while we were in London that Molly recommended.”
“Of course,” Thor said, trying not to frown. Who was it that they thought their colleague fancied aside from the Son of Coul? No. She had eyes only for his friend, it was obvious. And he’d do what he could to make sure they both knew it. “We’ll be most honoured to join you there.”
Tripp grinned and gave him a thumbs up and then went to join Skye. As he watched them walk, he had the feeling if there were any rules regarding interpersonal relationships between colleagues, they would be broken into smithereens at least thrice by those SHIELD agents. He already knew the duo as Fitzsimmons were joined at the hip, and the attraction between the older duo in charge was apparent, but there was something between Tripp and Skye. He grinned at that, forgetting his earlier confusion. It would be good to see appropriate matches made amongst his newfound friends...
“You seem to be quite interested in the technicalities of the arrangements,” Frigga said as she came over to Mycroft’s side. There had been a luncheon prepared for the guests and more conversation about what Asgard could offer. It seemed as though the consensus, at least amongst those gathered, was that the Asgardians would settle in Norway, and the countries would have an equal share of access to the technology they could offer with Tony Stark offering work for those in the sciences at Stark Industries, done by satellite. Mycroft himself honestly thought this was the best idea, though Molly was asking for some of the SHIELD scientists to be able to work at both their United States and United Kingdom headquarters as well.
While it was entertaining to watch Molly barter with Stark, his attention had been turned to the woman in charge of the whole world that they were on. Everyone was aware that her husband had been murdered here in the castle, that both Odinson and his adopted brother had led the quest for revenge, and that the scientist Foster had been involved as well, though in what capacity he himself still wasn’t sure. But no one had said much about what Frigga had been doing, and he had found himself...curious. SO he had taken to studying her as she spoke to the others, listening intently to what she had to say.
“I have more sense than most of the politicians here,” he said with a smile. “I also have the ear of many of their political allies and enemies.”
“A man in a position of power,” she said with a nod. “And...Sherlock is your brother?”
He nodded. “Yes. He’s a man of sciences and crime, mostly the science of crime. But his soon to be wife is head of SHIELD in Britain, and runs it quite well with Coulson. She used to be a spy herself, but doesn’t take many assignments these days.”
“Molly seems like a very determined woman,” she said with a soft laugh. “You have a soft spot for her.”
“I suppose I do. Nothing romantic, but I knew her past when most didn’t. I knew full well everything she was and can be capable of.”
“And you’re proud of her, it seems.”
“I am, yes,” he said with a nod. “You’re quite perceptive.”
“I suppose I am,” she said with a soft laugh, sitting in the chair next to him. “Would you like to know exactly why we’re willing to risk many things to leave this planet?”
“I would,” he said, turning to face her.
“Before Thor was born and Loki was taken from Jotunheim, my husband and I had a daughter, Hela. She was a fierce fighter and helped my husband conquer many realms. But she was also vicious and bloodthirsty. Soon, he knew she would turn against him to take the power for herself, and the realms would run red with rivers of blood.”
Mycroft nodded. “So I’m assuming he banished her to save the throne and the realm.”
“He did,” she said. “And then we had Thor, and Loki was found during a battle with the Jotun and my husband knew that there was something different about him when he turned from blue to the color we are with nothing more than a simple thought in his head. And all was well until Loki found out the truth and my husband went into Odinsleep. I failed to tell him the truth, and after he left and tried to conquer your realm, Odin refused to tell him the truth of who he really was. And I suppose I should at some point, but my husband sacrificed himself for me when he saw my beloved Loki attempt to do so first. There was some warmth for him, I suppose, but it came too late and at a cost I did not want to pay.”
“My condolences,” Mycroft said.
“Thank you.” She turned from Mycroft to look at Thor and Jane, who were eating near the head of the table, and it was quite obvious to him the two were very much in love. “She will make a good Queen when he takes the throne.”
“If what I’ve observed today is true, I think you’re right,” Mycroft replied. “Why hasn’t he taken it now, if I may ask. Not to disparage you as a ruler, but...”
“No offense is taken. There is much he can do for the good of the realms that do not involve ruling. I’m here and thriving, I can rule for some time. Jane has been changed by her experience here in Asgard, both metaphorically and literally, and she can bear him fine children, should they wish. But if the line dies out with Thor and Asgard is still in existence, Hela will come back and draw her power from Asgard itself. She’ll be unstoppable.”
“So the planet will be obliterated once all of you have relocated?” Mycroft asked, tilting his head. Frigga nodded. “The gathered delegates will not like that. They’ll want to keep Asgard in play for anything else valuable that they can strip from it.”
“Well, accidents do have a way of happening,” she said with a sly smile, one that Mycroft found himself mirroring. Oh, there was a good chance that the others may not like the end result in regards to Asgard, but he had the feeling he had just been made a confidante of the Queen of Asgard. He could keep this to himself; after all, his life revolved around secrets.
“I will not act unsurprised if there is one,” he replied, and Frigga patted his arm and then changed the subject to other things. This would, most definitely, be a very important conversation they just had, and he would keep it to himself until she gave him leave to do otherwise.
All seemed to be going well with the negotiations, though Coulson was keeping an eye on Loki from afar. Yeah, the scepter had messed with him as much or more than it had Barton and Selvig, but he still didn’t trust the guy farther than...well, a few inches, which was probably how far he could throw him.
May sidled up to him and slipped her sunglasses off her eyes and put them on the top of her head. “He’s the one?” she asked.
Coulson nodded. “Yup.”
“And you shot him?”
“Good.” She flashed him a quick smile and then gestured around them. The luncheon was over and various Asgardians had assembled with different groups of delegates and Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D. members to go look at pretty much whatever they wanted, leaving a few of them in the banquet hall. Coulson hadn’t eaten, but there had been a place set for him nonetheless and now he decided to take a break and actually eat. He sat down at his setting and May sat in the place next to him. “I think this will be a good thing.”
“The Asgardians coming to Earth?” he asked. “You know Norway isn’t going to hold them all. Iceland and other Scandinavian countries are going to need to take some of them. I think Mycroft has realized it, but it’s gone over everyone else’s heads.”
“He seems to have the Queen’s ear,” she said, picking up a goblet and poured some water in it. “Both of them, if British Intelligence is correct.”
“Good thing the head of the UK offices is marrying into the family,” Coulson said with a grin as he began to eat. “We’ve got someone closer than the best liaisons.”
“Molly did a good job bartering on our behalf. I think Stark was a little miffed by everything she got.”
Coulson waved a hand holding a fork. “Give him some of the Asgardian tech to play with and he’ll be fine. She got us the important stuff.”
“She did,” May said with a nod. She paused. “Sometimes I wish I could just..leave, and live a normal life like she did.”
“Yeah, I do too,” he said. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, longer than most. We’ve been partners for...what, twenty years off and on?”
“Don’t make me feel old,” she said, giving him another small smile. She had a sip of her water. “I almost had a normal life, with Andrew. It would have been nice if I could have kept it.”
“I don’t think we’re meant for it, if you want my honest opinion.”
“Yeah, I don’t think so either.” She sighed. “But even though this is a good idea, what if the tech or the science gets in the wrong hands?”
“That’s why we’re on the job, with our team, and everyone else who’s left.” He had some more of his food. “S.H.I.E.L.D. went underground, and now we’re legit again and we’re branching out with other directors, other offices. Fury is...somewhere, but I get the feeling that he’d approve. We’re getting more people, we’re building it again from scratch sans Hydra...if this goes to hell, we’ll be ready.”
“I hope you’re right, Phil.” She reached over and took the roll that had been on his plate and tore part of it off, popping it into her mouth. “Still having the dreams?”
“Yeah,” he said, not wanting to lie to her. “Whatever was done to me is still a part of me. Maybe one day I’ll be normal again, but I want to find out what it all means.”
“I know you do,” May said, setting the rest of the roll back on his plate and then patting his arm. She wasn’t one for comforting gestures as much as comforting words, which were still very rare, but he appreciated it nonetheless. “And we’ll help, and now we’ll have more help. Have you thought about having someone from Asgard look into what’s going on in your head?”
“I’ve thought about it, but I’m not sure,” he said. “I want to talk to Foster more about what it was like when she was looked at here.”
“Makes sense,” she said with a nod. “But you should do it before the mass migration. If they need anything from the planet, I think you should get it while there’s still a planet to get it from.”
“So you think Asgard the planet is going to bite the big one once the people leave too, don’t you?” Coulson said with a grin.
“Makes sense. If they’re leaving to stop something from happening, leaving no trace of themselves in this sector of space is just common sense.”
“Something the politicians seem to be lacking,” he said before taking another bite of the food. “They think it’ll be a renewable resource for them to plunder like they have our world.”
“Let’s just hope they aren’t too angry that their plans got foiled,” she said, picking up some of the meat off his plate and popping it into her mouth. Coulson’s grin got bigger and he moved the plate closer to her. She gave him another grin and then began picking at his meal as he ate. Some things, no matter how long it had all been since they first met, never seemed to change. But it made him happy to know she cared in a way that showed it wasn’t just duty. She was his friend, had been almost since they met, and as long as they were together while they dealt with whatever life and S.H.I.E.L.D. threw at them, he had the feeling they’d be just fine.
Tony had found that the hacker from S.H.I.E.L.D. and Foster’s assistant had gone to the same section of the palace grounds as he had, being lured by a look at the technology. They were attractive women, but he wasn’t about to flirt with either of them, despite the fact that he used to go after women their age fairly often in the days BP, or Before Pepper. And speaking of her…
He wasn’t sure if he’d have cell phone reception here, but he doubted it. He was glad their tour was being led by the woman introduced as Sif. She seemed a little dour but polite, if blunt. And he hoped she didn’t mind having her conversation with Skye and Darcy interrupted.
“...a pub in London?” Sif was asking. “I suppose I could go to Earth again for a bit to join my soon to be new team.”
“Cool,” Darcy said. “I’m being told I have to go too. Something about how Thor said Jane would get lonely.” She rolled her eyes. “With him there, I doubt that will be a thing that is happening.”
“Well, I’ve only been to London once or twice myself, and you actually spent time in the area, so if it gets boring you and I can go pub hopping,” Skye said, linking her arm through Darcy’s.
“There’s a party and I’m not invited?” Tony said with a grin, finding that to be the most logical way into the conversation. “I’m hurt.”
“Oh my God, if you came that would make Fitzsimmon’s night if you don’t mind having your ear talked off by our resident science siblings.”
“Someone once said Bruce Banner and I were ‘Science Bros,’” Tony said. “But before I say yes, I need to find a way to communicate back with Earth. I don’t think my cell phone can handle the roaming, though who knows.”
“I think we should be able to come up with a way,” Sif said with a smile. “Back before the Bifrost was repaired, Thor wished to try and communicate with Dr. Foster.” Her lips seemed to thin a bit at her name. That was curious. “It was not finished before the Bifrost was functional again, but it was what we used to contact the Son of Coul to start making the arrangments for today.”
“Technology that can span the universe for a single conversation?” Tony said, impressed. He could see Skye’s eyes sparkling as well. “You know, that could be some of the tech I could talk Molly into letting me have.”
“Hell no,” Skye said. “I want first crack at a communications system like that.”
“We could share?” Tony suggested, tilting his head. “I’ve heard about you. It could be interesting to see what you and I could do together.” And he meant it. Skye was formidable from what Coulson had said with her computer hacking skills. Technology seemed to be her thing and if Molly was going to take the really good stuff for S.H.I.E.L.D. then he could take S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best programmer to help him for a bit. If Skye agreed that was.
“I’ll have to think about it,” she said with a grin, but he was pretty sure she’d agree.
“You take your time, but I do actually hope you say yes. I’m not above using flattery, and maybe even bribes. Not that you probably couldn’t crack Stark Industry’s computer system on your own and take whatever you want.”
“Don’t tempt me,” Skye said as they entered a room that he had the feeling housed the communication system. Both of them stopped their banter and stared at the sophisticated system with wide eyes. “Damn, this is cool.”
“It certainly is,” he said, his voice humming with reverence. He moved over to look at it more closely, leaning in to take in the schematics in his head. He had the feeling that talented as he was, this was something he never would have been able to dream up on his own, and he really wanted to spend time with it.
Sif looked back and forth between them and then turned to Darcy. “I see this has captivated their attention.”
“Oh yeah. I don’t think we’ll be leaving for a while,” she said. He could see Darcy grin back at her when he shot them a quick look. “Not that I mind. I mean, technology isn’t my thing, but this is pretty cool.”
“What is your thing?” Tony asked, turning back to the machine.
“Honestly? Still not sure. I’m a poli sci major, not a science science major. I think I’ll figure it out eventually, but in the meantime, I’m gonna enjoy the cool perks of working with Jane.”
“Makes sense,” Tony said. He looked over at Sif. “I need to talk to Pepper Potts. Can you get in touch with a specific person?”
Sif nodded. “That shouldn’t pose a problem.” She began to move to the machine, operating it. He marveled at what she was doing, and he could see Skye doing the same thing. Soon, he saw Pepper as clearly as if they were Skyping.
“Tony! How are you…?” Pepper asked.
“Asgardian technology. Don’t worry, I got Stark Industries a lion’s share to work with, but I may not be coming home tonight. I’ve been asked to hit the pub with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and I’m going to try and poach some of their team.” He could hear Skye give a slightly amused snorty laugh behind him. “I might only come back with one, but it’ll be worth it.”
“Well, take your time, I’ll make sure Stark Industries is still standing when you get back,” Pepper said with a smile. “But you owe me dinner at Masa.”
“The most exclusive restaurant in New York? Pep, you drive a hard bargain, but I’ll do it. See if we can get a reservation for some time this year.”
“I think I can finagle something for this week. Friday?”
“It’s a date. See you when I get back.”
Pepper ended her connection and he turned to witness three women smiling at him. “What?”
“Aren’t you supposed to be some genius billionaire playboy or something?” Darcy asked, tilting her head, the smile still on her face.
“Reformed playboy, as you can obviously see,” he said with a warm, genuine grin on his face. He didn’t really care if he got crap over being in love. He was, and he loved Pepper and he didn’t care who saw.
“You know, I think that display of awww might have convinced me we’ll make a good team,” Skye said. “I’ll help work with you on this tech.”
“Excellent,” he said, his grin widening. “I think we need to go find your boss to make a few arrangements then, don’t we?”
“I think that would be a good idea, yeah. Or we can wait till pub time.”
“I don’t try and mix business and pleasure,” he said. “But I may make an exception in this case. Want to get a closer look?” He indicated the machine and at Sif’s nod, Skye moved over. This trip was going better than he could have imagined. Much, much better...
Sherlock watched, apart from the crowd. His brother and his fiancee certainly seemed in their element here, with politics and dealmaking to be done. It reminded him of the trip to Washington to help settle what would be left of S.H.I.E.L.D. after the leak, where Molly had come into her own. But a part of him, a small part, but a part nonetheless, wished for the old days. Not for the softspoken and timid Molly; he loved this version of her, the true version, more than he ever thought possible. But he missed them working together in their own ways to solve crimes. Life seemed bigger than that these days, and he missed the more simple life just a bit.
Not that he would trade what he had now for anything, he realized as Molly walked over to him, a wide smile on her face. “You look like the cat with the cream,” he said, giving her a grin of his own.
“And not the canary?” she asked, tilting her head.
“You like cream in your coffee and you like cats. I thought it was more apt.” He hesitated, then pulled her closer. He had thought she might push away since they were around her colleagues, but she wrapped her arms around his waist and set her cheek on his chest, swaying slightly with the breeze from outside the palace grounds. There was a brisk breeze coming off the water, and it was nice to him, but he wondered if she was cold.
“I think when we get back to London we should hole up in Baker Street and just forget about the world and politics and aliens for the weekend,” she said. “Just make it a...what’s the term? Staycation?”
“I could go for that,” he said with a nod. She burrowed closer. “Cold?”
“No, I just missed you. We kept getting separated, it seems, and now that the day is over I just want to curl up and talk about everything tonight, and then have our staycation and forget about it all again until Monday. If there’s a major threat, Mary can handle it.”
“It is nice when one of your best friends is the second in command of your branch of the organization, isn’t it?” he asked, grin still on his face.
“Yup,” she said, popping the p. “But I do need to call her when we get back to Earth. I think Tony has something up his sleeve so I want her to be aware of what we got, what I got for Phil and what Tony is supposed to have when it comes to what the Asgardians are giving our three branches. The other government agencies can fight over the rest.”
“More like other governments, if Mycroft is to be believed. Between Coulson and Stark, I think the United States is getting all it gets with them.”
“Well, hopefully, he can barter well on the UK’s behalf.”
“I get the feeling we’ll be well taken care of,” Sherlock said, glancing at his brother kissing the hand of Frigga. If there was a romantic relationship brewing between those two he may vomit, but at least Mycroft was in a good position to get as much as the Queen would want. Molly yawned them and he looked back at her, seeing she had shut her eyes. “Tired?”
“Well, you kept me up late last night, even with the early morning,” she said, an arch tone to her voice.
“Should I apologize?” he asked.
“No. You should do it again tonight after the business is done.” She looked up at him, opened her eyes and smiled before raising herself up to kiss him. The world may be changing, and changing greatly, he thought to himself as he kissed her back, but he hoped some things remained the same forevermore.
After the politicians and the delegates had left, and Sif, Thor, and Loki with them for a celebration with some of them at a pub in London, Frigga found herself alone in her rooms, thinking of the day. It had gone remarkably well, this plan of her son’s, and though she felt she may need to make her presence known at a few of the international meetings, all had gone well enough in the meantime that she could take a breath. Hela might be thwarted after all, and the Asgardian race would continue, just on another planet.
There was much to be done before they went to Earth, in regards to the other planets they had agreements and treaties with. Without Bifrost, it would be hard to travel as quickly should there be problems. But perhaps independence from Asgard was best. It was time to undo what her husband and daughter had wrought, and let these planets know they had an ally in the Asgardians, not rulers.
There was a knock at her chamber door. “Your majesty,” she heard Heimdall say.
“Enter,” she replied, turning away from her sight at the balcony to face him. Without Heimdall breaking laws that had been unjustly made, she mused, her kingdom may have fallen under long before she ascended to the throne. “Have they all arrived safely back on Earth?”
“They have,” he said with a nod. “Your sons seem to be enjoying the revelry. I do not expect to see either of them for at least a day or more.”
She smiled at him. “Good. They deserve a chance to have some enjoyment after...everything.”
“This plan will work,” he said. “Though Hela’s name will linger, and things will be done in it, it will not be the end of the universe as we know it.”
“A vision, Heimdall?” she asked.
“One of the more solid ones, I believe,” he said with a nod. “I see it coming to fruition far more easily than others.”
“Good,” he said. “Asgard is in its people, not a place. As long as we remember that, I believe all will be well.”
“As do I,” he replied. He bowed to her then. “I will take my leave now.”
“Thank you for sharing your vision with me,” she said. He nodded and then turned to leave, and she herself turned back to the view of Asgard as the sun set on the horizon. Her home may no longer exist at the end of all this, but her people would go on and do great things, and for that, she was most thankful.