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Avengers Watch Snippets

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Everyone was going about their normal business that fine afternoon in April when suddenly, a mysterious white flash of light surrounded them (conveniently nobody who wasn’t taken by the light saw this) and they vanished from wherever they were and woke up in –

“A theater?” asked Peter Parker in bewilderment. He’d been at Academic Decathlon practice (for once) when suddenly he appeared here. He was thrilled to see Aunt May and Tony Stark, as well as members of the Avengers and other famous superheroes, but slightly startled by the fact that the rest of his Decathlon team, and several of his schoolmates, were also present.

“Where are we?” Ned groaned. “Whoa, is that Captain America?”

It was indeed Captain America, glorious beard and all.

“What’s happening?” he asked, and then caught sight of Tony, who was glaring at him and Bucky coldly.

“Okay, let’s not fight, please,” T’challa said, which was exactly the opposite of Tony wanted to do at that moment. “We’re all in the same situation here. We need to figure out what happened and where we are, and then we can focus on other problems.”

“Well said, brother,” Shuri smirked.

“I found a note,” a girl with antennae said from a group containing a raccoon, a tree thing, a green-skinned girl, a tattooed man, and a human. She held up a sheet of paper.

Natasha took the writing from her and read the words. “’Dear Avengers and co, sorry for the alarm this may have caused you, but we mean no harm. We have gathered all of you here for a simple purpose: to display your past and your future, for your benefit and entertainment. Do not try to escape. Because this is fanfiction, this room you are in defies all logic so the door will appear only after we have decided you have seen enough.’ Then there’s a list of names.”

“Our names?” asked Clint, surrounded by his family.

“Yeah,” Natasha said.

“I suppose we should sit down, then,” Peter said brightly, ignoring the glare he received from Flash.

“Peter?” Tony asked incredulously.

“Oh, hey Mr. Stark!” the teen said brightly, and Flash’s look changed from glaring to shock to anger once more.

“Wait, who is everyone?” Wanda asked. Her gaze flickered to Tony and then quickly away, still unsure how she felt about the billionaire. She reached for Vision’s hand and held it tightly.

“I guess we should introduce ourselves,” another guy said. “Also, maybe say something about ourselves? I’m Scott Lang, Ant Man. Currently under house arrest for, uh, violating the Sokovia Accords.” He coughed awkwardly as the atmosphere in the room, which had been rather tense already, grew colder. He could feel Hope and Hank’s glares from the other side of the room.

“I’m Cassie!” a little girl said with a huge smile on her face, and immediately the air seemed easier to breath as everyone couldn’t help but smile at her. “And my dad’s best grandma in the world.”

This earned looks of confusion from everyone else, but Scott looked extremely proud at his daughter's words.

“I’m Maggie, Scott’s ex-wife,” Maggie introduced herself. “And this is my husband, Jim Paxton.” He waved.

Next Hank and Hope introduced themselves, and then Luis, along with Kurt and Dave. Ava and Bill Foster, along with Jimmy Woo, the FBI agent involved with Scott’s case was there as well. When Darren Cross went to introduce himself, Hank, Hope, and Scott all but growled at him.

“Okay, I guess I’ll go next,” said the human with the group of non-humans. “I’m Peter Quill, better known as Star Lord, and supreme leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Behind him the tattooed man snorted.

“Okay, we never appointed you leader,” the raccoon snarked, causing most of the room’s occupants to do a double take. “And I’m Rocket. The true leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, as most would say. And no, I am not a raccoon.”

Quill looked affronted.

“I am Groot.”

Then Drax, Mantis, and Gamora introduced themselves, along with Yondu, Nebula, and Ronan and Ego, the latter two of which the Guardians were less than pleased to see.

“What’s up everyone, I’m Peter Parker!” the teen superhero said excitedly. Then he quieted because, with his friends here, he couldn’t announce his alter identity. So he said, “I go to school at Midtown in Queens.”

There were a few questions shared among others as to why there was a group of teenagers in the midst of all these superheroes, but nobody said anything as the rest of the people from Peter’s life introduced themselves: Aunt May, Mr. Harrington, Ned, MJ, Liz and her parents, Coach Wilson, his teachers, Mr. Delmar, and Jason and Betty, among others.

“Well, I think you all know who I am,” Tony started out.

Quill raised his hand. “Yeah, sorry, you’re wrong there.”

“Does Peter Parker really have an internship at your company?” Flash blurted.

Tony ignored the Terran but answered Flash. “Yes, in fact he is my personal assistant. And, for the unfortunate few who have no clue who I am, I am Tony Stark, genius, playboy, philanthropist, I could list more but we’d be here all day. Also, I am Iron Man.”

“Oh my god, Tony,” Pepper smiled, rolling her eyes. “He really likes to overdo it, so I apologize. I’m Pepper Potts, CEO of Stark Industries.”

“I am Happy Hogan, and I work for Mr. Stark,” the man said in a rather monotone voice.

“I’m Rhodey. Tony’s best friend and also War Machine.”

“I am Steve Rogers.” This earned a snort from Tony. “Better known as Captain America.”

“I’m Bucky Barnes,” his long-haired friend introduced himself next. “Formerly known as the Winter Soldier.”

There were also several of the men back from Steve’s days in the military, along with Red Skull who no one was particularly happy to see.

With all these faces present, Steve couldn’t quench the feeling of disappointment that a certain Agent Carter was not among them.

“I am Captain Marvel,” a blonde, seemingly human woman said next. “I came to earth briefly a while back, but these last few years I’ve been visiting other planets.”

“Nick Fury, head of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” the man with the eye patch said next. He cast an analyzing look around at everyone with these words and said nothing more. Carol couldn’t suppress a snort at his intimidating atmosphere.

Agent Hill and Coulson were also present.

“I’m Maria Rambeau, and this is my daughter Monica,” the black woman sitting near Carol introduced herself, also smiling.

“Yon Rogg,” said a man with unnerving eyes, standing by the two women and the younger girl. The three of them and Fury gave him a look filled with loathing.

“Hello, mortal friends, I am Thor of Asgard, god of thunder!” the man boomed, beaming.

Next to him stood Loki, whose appearance didn’t go to well with those who knew him and fought him. Thor looked expectantly to his brother, but when the dark-haired man refused to say anything, Thor instead introduced Loki to everyone. Then came Jane Foster, Sif, Fandral, Volstagg, Hogun, Frigga, and Odin, as well as Valkyrie, whom nobody recognized because she came from a future time.

Wanda and Vision went next, followed by Bruce Banner.

“Natasha Romanov,” the spy said rather coldly. She was too busy scouting the room, looking to see if there really were no exits or escape routes she could use. While she couldn’t deny her curiosity, the idea of truly being trapped with no way out bothered her. And right now, it certainly looked like the room was completely sealed. Wouldn’t they all suffocate eventually, if there were no openings, though?

“Clint Barton, or Hawkeye,” the archer introduced himself. “And this is my family: my beautiful wife, Laura, and my three children, Cooper, Lila, and Nathaniel.”

"Sam Wilson, the Falcon," the man sitting next to Bucky and Captain America said.

“I am Doctor Stephen Strange.” a man with a cape and tunic, and also rather nice cheekbones, went next. “And before you ask, yes, that really is my name.”

“The Ancient One,” the woman dressed in yellow stated. “The fact that I did not foresee this circumstance is rather unusual.”

“Wong,” the next sorcerer said shortly.

“Mordo,” the green-tuniced man said, glaring coldly at both Strange and the Ancient One. Where he was and how he got there he didn’t know, but he knew that the Ancient One was supposed to be dead. She must be using the dark magic once more in order to resurrect herself. And with Strange here in this mysterious room, clearly some foul play was afoot.

The remaining sorcerers were simply relieved that, while other villains were present, it appeared Kaecilius and Dormamu were not there.

Black Panther went next. “I am T’challa, King of Wakanda.”

“Princess Shuri of Wakanda, the real brains behind our country’s successes,” his sister smirked, while T’challa simply rolled his eyes and shook his head.

Okoye, Nakia, W’Kabi, M’Baku, Ramonda, and Ross were also present, as well as Killmonger and even Klaw.

“I’m never going to keep all these people straight,” Tony commented.

“Is that everybody, then?” Steve asked.

“Think so,” Natasha replied. “Let’s get this over with.”

The large ensemble made their way to the seats in front of a large screen that had been present (but not mentioned) the entire time, sitting in clumps of people that they knew and feeling anticipation and uncertainty growing inside them.

Once everyone was seated, as if on cue, the room darkened and the screen lit up before going dark. White words appeared on the screen:

"Thank you, heroes, for your understanding. We have gathered you here, once again, for your entertainment, but also to educate you on matters that have passed or are yet to come. Take note of what you see here today."

The words faded out and were replaced by:

"First, we will be viewing…"

Chapter Text

ACDC’s Back in Black suddenly bursts from speakers that nobody can see, causing the room’s occupants to jump in surprise.

“Oh god,” Tony said, covering his face, as he immediately realized what this scene was.

Pepper and Rhodey shot him worried looks, and immediately realized why he had reacted when they saw a group of military vehicles making their way through the desert, and the words “Kunar Province, Afghanistan” appear on the screen.

“Whoever has us here isn’t really kidding around,” Rhodey commented as the camera showed a man, dressed in camouflage, looked back in what seemed to be disbelief at something in the back seat.

“What is going on?” was the general murmur around the room. Tony just shook his head as a drink was shown, before the soldier sitting next to him in the back seat was shown looking at him silently.

“These must be Midgardian warriors,” Thor said.

“That they are,” Steve confirmed, curious as to what was going on.

Finally the camera cut to Tony, who was staring back at the young soldier beside him.

“Ah yes, this must be the guy everybody knows about,” Quill said sarcastically.

A lot of people went “oh” as if something had been explained to them, and for a great many who remembered Tony Stark’s disappearance in Afghanistan, something had. Tony sunk lower in his seat, perhaps hoping to disappear. Pepper placed a comforting hand on his back.

“Things seem rather tense in there,” Scott said, trying to lighten the mood in the room.

The Tony on the screen had the same feeling, as he commented, “I feel like you’re driving me to a court-martial. This is crazy. What did I do?”

This earns some laughter in the room. Even Steve can’t help but smile a little bit at Tony’s antics. For all of the billionaire’s faults, he could be very humorous and charming when he wanted to be.

“What, you’re not allowed to talk?” the Tony onscreen asked when none of the soldiers said anything. “Hey, Forrest!”

With these words, Steve couldn’t help but frown. “Hey, you should show some respect to these men. They are fighting to protect your country.”

Tony raised his head from his hands and felt he couldn’t even muster a glare in the direction of the star-spangled man. “Yeah, well, this was way back, before…” he didn’t finish.

“We can talk, sir,” the soldier by Tony said, and the billionaire immediately cut him off with, “Oh, I see, so it’s personal?”

There were a few laughs at that line, although Steve was looking more disapproving by the minute.

A female voice answered from the front of the Humvee: “No, you intimidate them.”

Thor grinned broadly upon hearing her speak. “A female warrior! Sif, they have female warriors here on Midgard as well!”

Sif gave a stiff smile and stared back at the screen, where Tony was expressing his shock as well. “Good God, you’re a woman!”

"Is that really that surprising?" asked Gamora.

Tony continued talking to the woman: “I’m kind of having a hard time not looking at you now, is that weird?”

"Yes," a lot of people answered.

“Tony,” Pepper sighed in exasperation.

“Hey, I was trying to lighten the mood in there,” Tony said, his next words dying on his lips.

“Hey sir, I have a question,” the male soldier in the front said to the billionaire. “Is it true you went twelve for twelve with last year’s Maxim cover models?”

“That is an excellent question, yes and no, March and I had a scheduling conflict, but fortunately the Christmas cover was twins. Anything else?”

This line earned a slow whistle from Sam Wilson and a slow clap from Clint, who was smirking at Tony.

“Damn,” said Quill, who, despite having never heard of Maxim, assumed it was a magazine and knew that was an impressive feat. This earned a smack from Gamora.

Rhodey shook his head fondly. Some of the women, like May, Okoye, and Maria, looked at the genius with an expression that could best be described as disappointment.

“And I am now happily engaged to by dear and loving fiancée, Pepper,” Tony declared. Pepper smiled, intertwining their fingers.

“Don't worry about it, Tony,” the ginger said.

“You’re kidding me with the hand up, right?” Onscreen Tony asked the soldier beside him.

“Is it cool if I take a picture with you?”

Tony’s answer was drowned out with a loud cry of “YES!” from the direction of the seats containing the students from Midtown. While a few people, like Monica, Cassie, and Clint’s children, were in agreement, a lot of people threw the high schoolers weird looks.

“What are a bunch of teenagers doing here anyway?” Hank asked. “Everyone else here has a relationship to some superhero. Why are they important?”

“Peter here has an internship with Mr. Stark,” Ned said helpfully. “Also he’s – ”

None of the students from Midtown had ever seen Peter move so fast.

“Ned, shut up,” he hissed.

“Oh, sorry man,” his friend apologized, smiling sheepishly. “Anyway, like I said, he has an internship with Mr. Stark.”

“So you say,” Flash called from the back. This comment earned a frown from multiple people, including May, who had an idea of the harassment the other boy put her nephew through, and Pepper and Tony. But nobody said anything, for now.

“Yes, it’s very cool,” Onscreen Tony said and the soldier next to him fumbled for his camera, smiling as he handed it to the guy in the front of the vehicle.

“I don’t wanna see this on your MySpace page, please,” Tony commented, earning a laugh from the watching audience.

“Oh my God, Mr. Stark, you’re so old!” Peter laughed. Flash glared at the way the famous billionaire simply smiled at Peter, equally amused. Tony still felt a growing sense of dread as the moment he knew was approaching drew nearer.

“What is the MySpace of which you speak of?” asked Thor. “Why do I have a space?”

“I think MySpace is where you run around catching these things called emojis, which are like memes,” Bucky offered, pronouncing memes as "mee-mees".

The students of Midtown, Clint, Scott, Shuri, and surprisingly, Loki, stared at him with a mixture of confusion and disappointment.

“There were so many things wrong with that statement,” Shuri said disapprovingly. “We must teach this sad boy the ways of the force.”

“Agreed, we have a new mission,” Peter said, Ned nodding next to him.

“As amusing as this exchange is,” T’challa said dryly, “can we please get back to this video?”

Attention returned back to the screen.

“Please, no gang signs,” Tony was saying on screen in reference to the soldier’s peace sign. Then immediately, “No, throw it up, I’m kidding.”

Pepper shook her head, an exasperated smile on her face. “You just like to mess with people, don’t you?”

“They make it too easy for me,” Tony replied, and then fell silent as he remembered the fate of the three people on screen who had sat in the vehicle with him.

“Yeah, peace, I love peace,” Tony continued as he posed for the photo. “Be out of a job with peace.”

Nobody commented on this phrase, but it stuck an odd chord with some of them, especially the kids from Midtown, at remembering that Stark Industries had at one point manufactured weapons used in war.

The soldier in the front was having trouble taking the shot and the younger man next to Tony kept telling him to just click the camera. The viewers smiled at the scene, not anticipating the next loud explosion that shattered the peaceful atmosphere of the Humvee and caused many to jump.

“What was that?” Aunt May said in alarm.

“Oh my god,” Maggie Lang said, covering her mouth as the camera showed the fiery explosion that had caused the noise. She held Cassie close to her.

Tony was one of the very few who hadn’t shown a reaction the sound, but he could feel his heart rate beginning to pick up as memories of the cave and Yinsen came flooding back to him. He held Pepper’s fingers tighter, and she squeezed his hand reassuringly.

Screaming in the Humvee echoed the terrified thoughts of many of the watchers. Darren Cross rolled his eyes at these reactions. Obviously Tony Stark survived this incident. There was no need to get so worked up.

“What’s going on?” Tony asked through the chaos as the female soldier shouted something. She opened the door only to be shot down immediately by whoever was attacking.

Nathaniel, Clint’s youngest son, let out a frightened cry at this. Cassie, for all her bravery, had tears beginning to swim in her eyes. Sif, who had acted indifferently earlier when the female soldier was introduced, covered her mouth with horror. Thor, Frigga, Odin, and the Warriors Three lowered their heads at the loss.

“Oh my goodness,” Laura said, hugging her children to her. “Are we sure the children should really be watching this?”

“There’s nowhere else for them to go,” Natasha said gently. “Hopefully, it won’t be too bad.”

Tony coughed, knowing she was very wrong.

“Jimmy, stay with Stark,” the soldier in the front shouted, beginning to get out of the seat himself.

“Oh, no,” Steve said, a horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach.

“Stay down!” Jimmy, the younger soldier, shouted as the other one climbed out of the Humvee, taking position behind the vehicle to shoot at their assailants. He was quickly shot down, causing the glass of the front window to crack and Tony to make a noise of terror.

Much like in the theater. Tony knew he was having the beginnings of a panic attack, but he knew now was not the time. Not in front of all these people. Not in front of Peter.

Pepper and Rhodey’s hands were on his back, rubbing circles to try to calm him down. But he could see Jimmy, the determination in the young soldier’s face right before he turned around and met death. No, he had to focus on breathing. He couldn’t let this affect him.

“Son of a bitch!” Jimmy shouted, grabbing his gun and moving to open the door.

“This is not going to end well,” Scott said grimly.

“Wait, wait, wait!” Tony called, trying to stop the soldier from leaving. “Give me a gun!”

“You need to get out of there!” Mantis said anxiously.

“How?” Drax asked. “He is trapped.”

“Stay. Here,” Jimmy ordered emphatically, his face framed by the dirty glass window of the destroyed Humvee, before turning around to be shot down immediately, littering the glass with bullet holes.

Laura had covered her children’s eyes, as tears glistened in her own. There was a moment of silence, both from shock and to mourn the soldier whose death they had just witnessed.

“That was awful,” Carol said gently from her seat, near Tony.

On the screen a ringing noise began to cover the chaos outside as Tony tried to look outside through the shattered glass of the Humvee. More fire rocked the screen and the viewers had a brief glimpse of another soldier outside being shot down. Then the camera focused back on Tony, who looked around, at a loss for what to do.

The next instant he pushed the door open and leaped out of the vehicle. This action earned a large response from many.

“What are you doing?”

“Stay in the vehicle! You’re protected there!”

“He gave you orders!” this was from Steve.

“Guys, calm down,” Pepper commanded, and immediately the exclamations quieted. “It’s already happened. Shouting at the screen isn’t going to change the past. This is hard enough for Tony as it is.”

There were a few apologies, which Tony accepted with a subconscious nod. “Thank you,” he said to Pepper. The panic attack seemed to abate as a sort of blank numbness settled over him.

As soon as Tony left the Humvee a shot nearly blasted him, with him ducking just in time. The audience let out a breath, the air thick with anticipation.

Tony ran through the fiery explosions before leaping to take cover behind a rock, landing hard with a cry. Taking only a moment to recover, he pulled out a device and began dialing something on it.

“What is he trying to do?” Jimmy Woo asked aloud.

Nobody answered, too intent on the action on the screen.

Suddenly a missile bearing the logo of Stark Industries landed a few feet away from Tony’s cover.

“Awkward,” Shuri voiced, but then grew somber, because as amusing as she found Stark’s own tech literally about to blow up in his face, she did not want to see him die. Though his tech was not nearly as superior as Wakanda’s, it was quite good.

“Uh oh,” was what mostly everyone else was thinking, while Steve, Bruce, and a few others screamed “GET OUT OF THERE!” at the screen.

Onscreen Tony got up in an attempt to flee, but by the time he was on his feet, the weapon had exploded in a fiery blast, knocking Tony on his back in the dirt. Other than a few scratches, he appeared to be fine as he took a few recovery breaths.

“Oh,” Scott said, trying to lighten the mood a bit. “Maybe it wasn’t too bad after all.”

“Think again,” Tony said dryly, nodding as onscreen, blood began spreading on his shirt.

There was a gasp as Tony pulled off his shirt, revealing that the bullet proof vest he was wearing had been pierced and that he was bleeding profusely.

“How are you alive after that?” Quill asked.

“That, my friends, is the reason for the arc reactor,” Tony said, trying to sound unaffected by what everyone had just witnessed. So far, whatever this was was going well. Not only had he just relived one of his worst memories, but a large group of people, most of whom he didn’t even know, had just seen him in one of his most vulnerable states.

“Arc reactor?” Rocket echoed curiously. “Never heard of that.”

“I’m sure it’ll be explained,” Tony replied through gritted teeth, still not onboard with the idea of a talking not-raccoon.

The screen filled with white light, and someone could be heard speaking in a foreign language. Light filtered through what appeared to be a burlap sack, and suddenly it was pulled off to reveal a very disoriented-looking Tony, before zooming out to reveal he was surrounded by a group of men with guns. Then the screen cut to black with the words: IRON MAN.

“So that’s how it happened,” Rhodey remarked darkly.

“What did they want from you?” Clint asked. He knew Tony well, but the billionaire never went into detail about what had happened to him in Afghanistan.

“The Jericho,” Tony replied simply, and neither the archer, nor anyone else, pressed him for more information. “Um, screen thingy, can we please move on?”

There was some murmuring as people discussed what they had just witnessed, many seeing Tony in a different light. Peter, who already held Tony in such high regard, felt even more respect for his mentor. Wanda cocked her head at the billionaire, reassessing her thoughts on him.

Suddenly the screen lit up with new words.

“Yes, Tony, we will be continuing with a new scene. This time, we will be watching…”

Chapter Text

The screen cut to an image of Thor, behind him a large group of people.

“It is me!” Thor said in surprise and delight, turning to Loki. “Brother? Do you see that? It is me on the device, along with Sif and Volstagg and Hogun and Fandral and Lady Jane and Lady Darcy and Erik!”

“Yes, Thor, I see,” Loki said in exasperation.

“It is the pirate angel,” Drax said, gesturing towards Thor onscreen. “It is like an angel had a baby with a pirate.”

“He’s not that great,” Quill said in annoyance, and Drax simply shook his head in disbelief at the Terran.

“What happened to Iron Man?” Flash whined, wanting to see his hero on the screen again. “Or can we at least watch something with Spiderman?

He was ignored, although Thor sent a thunderous (literally, there was a rumble of thunder in the distance) look in his direction.

Thor onscreen appeared to be walking towards something, his face filled with concern. The television showed a shot of the town from above, brown dust or smoke or something filling the air. Again Thor was shown, gazing at something that the audience was impatient to see.

Finally they could see what had Thor so serious as a street was shown, cars strewn about, one on fire. Behind one vehicle, turned on its side, the viewers could make out what appeared to be a suit of armor, or a robot of some kind.

“What is that?” asked Sam curiously.

“Oh, I remember this,” Darcy Lewis said from next to Erik and Jane. She had definitely been there the entire time.

Thor approached the robot thing, which kicked the car in front of it aside.

“Brother, whatever I have done to wrong you, whatever I have done wrong to lead you to this, I am truly sorry,” the Thor on screen stated, and when Loki, dressed in his full Asgardian armor, complete with golden horns, was shown, the entire audience swiveled around to stare at the God of Mischief.

“Loki,” Odin sighed under his breath in a reprimanding tone.

Loki appeared to remain calm, but Frigga, Odin, and Thor heard him let out a quiet groan as this memory was played out across the screen.

“I like your armor,” Peter commented. Loki inclined his head at the young Midgardian.

“But these people are innocent,” Onscreen Thor continued. “Taking their lives will gain you nothing.”

Clint snorted, still extremely salty about New York, but otherwise nobody else really reacted to these words.

The Destroyer was shown, its face armor opening to reveal its empty inside, which began to glow as robot and god stood face to face, Thor dwarfed by the other’s huge height.

“So take mine,” Thor said to the Destroyer.

“Or don’t,” Tony offered. “We kinda need you around here, Point Break.”

Thor gave the billionaire a small smile. “I am glad to hear that, Friend Tony. But I am afraid this scene was a very necessary part in my journey to becoming the person I am today.”

Loki snorted disbelievingly, but there was a fond smile on his face.

“And end this,” Thor finished as Loki was shown again, seeming to watch the events on Midgard from his seat on the throne.

“Dramatic much?” quipped Scott.

The glowing heat of the Destroyer’s armor dimmed and the face closed up again. Now Jane was shown, looking toward Thor with evident concern on her face.

“Oh god,” Jane said, groaning at the sight of herself on screen. It was so bizarre to see herself up there. Not for the last time, she wondered why she hadn’t seen cameras anywhere, but perhaps she was so busy worrying about Thor that she hadn’t been paying attention to anything else.

Movie-Thor’s lips twitched, and then the Destroyer turned as if to walk away.

“Well, that was easy,” Rocket said. “Here I was, expecting some dramatic fight between – ”

He was cut off as the Destroyer turned around, landing a blow to Thor’s head that sent the god flying with a groan.

“NO!” the Jane onscreen cried, running forward to help Thor.

Many in the audience, including Peter and Ned, echoed the same word of horror.

“Not the pirate angel!” Drax exclaimed.

Onscreen, Thor feel in slow motion.

“Okay, sorry, I gotta say it, but this is kind of corny,” Quill said, shaking his head in exasperation as the screen showed Jane running dramatically towards Thor with concern etched all over her face.

“Rest assured, Son of Quill, I fell much faster than that,” Thor stated.

“And I ran faster than that,” Jane put in.

“Well, not really, you’re not exactly Usain Bolt,” Darcy said, earning a smack from the other brunette.

"I think you are just jealous of the pirate angel," Drax said to Quill, who rolled his eyes in protest.

Finally, Thor hit the ground, rolling over several times before landing on his back, revealing his bloodied face.

“Oh, my son,” Frigga said, wincing in sympathy.

Jane, still in slow motion (viewer Jane groaned), finally reached Thor’s side, looking at the god in concern.

“It’s over,” Thor whispered to her.

“No, it’s not over,” the woman said, shaking her head, hair flying.

“Yeah, Mr. Thor, it’s never over!” Ned said enthusiastically. “Oh, um it’s an honor to meet you sir, by the way. An honor to be in the same room with you, sir. An honor to breathe the same – ”

“Ned, stop it,” Peter said, face flaming in embarrassment at his friend’s antics.

“Sorry, sorry, I’m just super excited to be here surrounded by all my heroes,” Ned apologized sheepishly, turning back to the screen.

Thor couldn’t help but laugh at the teenagers.

“I mean, you’re safe,” Thor was saying, Jane rushing to reassure him that she indeed was. “It’s over,” Thor repeated.

His breathed heavily once, and Jane whispered “No” but Thor’s eyes had closed and he seemed –

“Dead? You died? This makes absolutely no sense!” Clint declared.

“Yeah, Point Break, you aren’t supposed to die here,” Tony added. “What happened to your ‘power of Thor’ stuff that we love so much?”

“Mortals,” Loki said with a roll of his eyes. “You believe death is permanent. I have died many times, and yet I still sit here, do I not?”

“We wish otherwise though,” Clint said darkly under his breath, looking a little apologetic when his wife sent him a chastising look.

“Well, obviously he is not dead,” Gamora said. “He’s sitting right there. What if we all stop talking and just watch the screen?”

“Preach!” Quill said, and recoiled after she smacked him.

Onscreen, Sif and Erik gazed sadly in the direction of their fallen friend. Both of the viewers looked surprised to see themselves on screen. Then the scene cut back to the Asgardian throne room, where Loki stood, two guards in the background. He turned, green cape swishing, and walked towards the throne.

Back on earth, the Destroyer looked down at Thor and Jane. Seeming to decide that its work was done, it turned around and began to leave.

“I wanna cape like Loki,” Cassie said to Scott.

Loki smirked, his hands glowing green, and said cape appeared on Cassie, who laughed in utter delight. This resulted in a request for capes from many of the younger viewers, including the students of Midtown and, much to his horror, Clint’s children. Soon a flurry of colorful clothes filled the room as Loki conjured capes for everyone who requested one.

“Wow, who knew Reindeer Games was so generous,” Tony snarked, and then let out a yelp of surprise when a red and gold cape appeared in front of him.

“Now that everyone has their capes,” Natasha sighed, sporting a cape of her own, “can we please go back to watching the clip? I’d like to see what happens.”

The room quieted as Jane felt for Thor’s heartbeat, and her broken expression indicated that the god indeed was dead. There were some murmurs of confusion and some of sympathy directed towards Jane, but nothing distinct could be heard from the viewers.

As Jane cried, Darcy and Volstagg were shown looking sad. Viewer Darcy let out an excited shout.

“I’m there! I’m on the screen!” she beamed, shaking Jane and Erik by the shoulder and pointing towards the TV.

“Where am I?” Fandral wondered aloud. He’d seen himself in the background and wanted to know why he hadn’t been featured solo like the others.

The Destroyer had walked a significant way down the street, nearly disappearing from view, when the scene changed to Odin, asleep. A single tear leaked from his closed eyes.

Frigga put her hand over her husbands comfortingly as other audience members looked at each other, wondering what the significance of the tear was.

“It’s the pirate,” Drax whispered to Mantis.

Meanwhile in the facility surrounding Thor’s hammer a yellow device was shown, its needle rapidly moving. The scientist holding it looked concerned.

“Look! It is Mjolnir,” Thor beamed. “Oh, this is my favorite part.”

“What’s Meol – Mojo – M – screw it, what is Thor’s hammer doing there?” asked Scott.

“This was when Mjolnir fell from the sky into the desert, so S.H.I.E.L.D. was investigating it,” Coulson answered.

“Whosoever holds this hammer,” Odin’s voice spoke, as scientists rushed about, screens glitching as the hammer began to move, “if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”

“Ooh, it’s soooo dramatic,” Cassie giggled.

“Doesn’t Thor already possess the power of…Thor?” asked Monica.

“Yes, well, I had been banished from Asgard and stripped of my power,” Thor explained. “So at the time, no.”

“Why were you – ”

“Perhaps that is a story for another day,” Thor laughed nervously, as the actions that led to his banishment made him feel rather uncomfortable and ashamed. He was grateful Odin had sent him to earth. The punishment had made him a better person.

Onscreen, the rock around Mjolnir began to crumble and fall away, and suddenly the weapon shot up into the darkening sky. Over Thor’s body, Jane looked up to see the trail left by the hammer as it flew. Erik, seeing its rapid approach, yelled “Jane!” and moved towards her.

“Get out of there!” Darcy was saying, even though she’d already lived through the experience and knew what happened.

Jane wasn’t moving, and when Erik came to pull her away, she cried, “No!” trying to resist the man’s attempt to pull her away.

“He’s trying to help you,” Flash said, just to be annoying.

Luckily Erik was successful, and not a moment too late. A hand caught Mjolnir, stopping her flight, and instantly lightning shot down from the dark clouds above.

“Whoa,” Sam said. “I gotta admit, that was pretty cool.”

Thor’s eyes were open now, his beaten face illuminated by the brightness of the lightning. In the throne room, Loki whipped around, and the Destroyer on earth looked back at Thor.

“Did not expect that, did you, brother?” Thor grinned at the dark-haired god. Loki snorted but did not give a verbal response.

Armor reappeared on Thor’s body, and Volstagg, Hogun, and Fandral were shown, looking stunned and delighted.

“There I am!” Fandral exclaimed happily.

Lighting crackled, blinding many of the viewers who could hardly make out Thor’s figure standing at the center of all the energy.

“Good thing Jane got out of there,” Erik said in a clipped tone, Darcy nodding in agreement.

Onscreen Erik stared in disbelief, and, unable to believe her eyes, Jane echoed the sentiment of many of the viewers, “Oh. My. God.”

The Destroyer’s face metal opened again, glowing with heat as it watched the pillar of white light, from which Mjolnir came flying, to the cheers of the students from Midtown. The humanoid figure shot a beam of hot light at the hammer, which seemed to vanish for an instant before slamming into the Destroyer’s head, sending the armor crashing to the ground. Finally, Thor was revealed, holding the hammer proudly, dressed in his complete Asgard regalia, a firm look on his face.

“Nice hair, Point Break,” Tony commented. “You use L’Oreal?”

“I do not know what this L’Oreal you speak of is,” Thor replied, confusion on his face.

“Because you’re worth it!” Shuri and Peter laughed at the same time.

“It is the hair of an angel,” Drax added with a firm, approving nod.

“What is your deal?” Quill asked.

Jane smiled onscreen, and the Destroyer was getting to its feet again. In a fruitless attempt, it shot a beam of golden light into the black swirling clouds that were amassing in the sky above it. Jane, Darcy, Erik, Sif, and the Warriors Three began retreating from the dark street as wind whipped fiercely.

The Destroyer stared into the swarming clouds, getting smacked by a car but still standing. It was revealed that Thor was the one creating the storm by whipping Mjolnir in a circle above his head. This earned a whistle from Sam. Finally, Thor created enough power to lift the Destroyer off of the ground. The machine sent some more blasts at Thor, who deflected them with his hammer, flying into the air. He countered another blast from the Destroyer, flying into the beam of light as it burned around him.

“Wow, so amazing,” Ned applauded. “Mr. Thor, you are so amazing.”

“Thank you,” Thor said.

“How are you not on fire?” asked Shuri. “With that cape…”

The screen showed a distant explosion, what was presumably Thor making contact with the Destroyer at last. The machine’s lifeless body flew into the air and came crashing down to the ground. The black clouds that had surrounded the fight dissipated and Thor emerged from the clearing dust.

“Okay, what?” Tony said, appearing genuinely confused. “All this goes down, and somehow the town is completely intact?”

“I am very good at damage control, Friend Tony,” Thor said cheerfully.

“New York tells me otherwise,” Tony said. “Not only are the buildings completely fine, but apparently Jane and Erik and the Asgardian warrior friends of yours were standing not too far off and yet they are completely fine?”

“Yeah, and somehow his cape is fine too,” Shuri added.

“Do not question it,” Loki said. “I find that with my brother, a lot of things do not make sense.”

“I think the scene is over,” Steve said when nothing more appeared on the screen.

“Well, that was interesting,” Natasha summed up for everyone. “What’s next?”

Words appeared on the screen. “Next, we will be watching…”

Chapter Text

The Casket of Ancient Winters appears on the screen, the center glowing brightly and writhing around within its confines.

Clint groaned. “Not that thing. Haven’t we had enough of it?”

"That is not the Tesseract, friend Clint, if that is what you think it is," said Thor.

"Really?" asked Captain Marvel, inclining her head. The object certainly resembled the Tesseract, although, she supposed, it was larger.

"Yes, that is the Casket of Ancient Winters," Sif added in.

Meanwhile, Loki already had a sinking feeling in his stomach, but he masked his growing panic behind his usual façade.

Indeed, his fears were proven right when he appeared on screen, looking much younger. Some of the viewers, especially the Avengers, started at seeing him, how much more innocent he looked. Frigga frowned, wishing she and her family could go back to simpler times.

Slowly, Loki brings his hands up to the Casket, looking at the glowing light as though it holds all the answers he wants and fears. He takes a deep breath, and then holds the handles on either side of the object. Ever so slowly, he lifts it from its place.

“What is he doing?” Cassie whispered to Scott, swishing her cape around.

“I’m not sure, Peanut,” her father replied.

Suddenly, a voice onscreen yells, “STOP!” and the screen moves off of Loki to reveal a cloaked figure in the background.

Odin raises an eyebrow, recognizing himself on screen and also connecting the dots as he realized what was being shown.

“Am I cursed?” Loki asked, as the screen cut back to him, showing him from behind, illuminated by the yellow light from the squares on the wall in front of him.

There were a lot of confused looks, as most people were unsure of what was happening.

“Of course you are not cursed,” Thor boomed loudly, trying to reassure his younger brother, who merely scowled and willed the scene to play out quickly. He found that, while the room they were in allowed him to harness harmless magic (such as cape conjuring) his attempts to teleport or shut off the screen were fruitless and actually caused him pain, so Loki had resigned himself to sitting through this torture with as little reaction as possible. It was bad enough as it was that these mortals would see him in one of his most vulnerable moments. He did not wish them to see his reaction as he relived it.

“No,” Odin said. There was a pause as Loki set the Casket back down, asking, “What am I?”

Now the screen showed Odin, who replied after only a moment’s hesitation. “You’re my son.”

“And mine,” Frigga added. Loki gave her a smile. He was no Odinson, that was for sure, but Frigga would always be his mother.

“It’s the angel,” Drax, meanwhile, whispered to Mantis.

Quill overheard and didn’t know whether to be amused or exasperated by his fellow teammate’s obsession with Thor. He was way better than that guy.

Loki turned around and –

“What the hell, he is blue,” Clint said in alarm. “Is nobody else seeing that he is blue?”

“Yes, we can see that, Bird Brain,” replied Tony. “We do have functioning eyes.”

“My brother is a frost giant,” Thor said, beaming.

“Didn’t you say frost giants were the bad guys?” asked Sam.

Thor frowned. “There is more to the story than that.”

“Whoa, Mr. Loki, that’s so cool!” Peter exclaimed, staring at the screen. “Can you turn into a frost giant whenever you want?”

“Mr. Loki?” the trickster god echoed, both confused and touched by the young Midgardian.

“Sorry, should I not call you that?”

Loki cocked his head, apparently in thought. “I suppose it is better than Reindeer Games.”

Tony put a hand over his heart, feigning offense. “Wow, and here I thought I meant something special to you.”

“Can we please get back to watching?” MJ said. Her book had conveniently vanished upon her entrance to the room, and she was missing its company. The faster they got through this, the sooner she could continue her reading.

“What more than that?” Loki asked, as his skin changed back from blue to its usual hue.

“Ooh, magic!” Nathaniel grinned.

“I can do better than that,” Wanda said, shooting Loki a grin.

“Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet,” Loki smirked.

The screen showed the distance between Loki and Odin; one with his back to the glowing blue Casket, and one standing higher up on the steps, back to the door.

“Dramatic face off,” Scott sang, making Cassie giggle.

“Can you be serious for one minute?” Hope asked, and then sighed when Scott began counting said minute under his breath. “One, two, three…”

Loki began walking towards Odin. “The casket wasn’t the only thing you took from Jotunheim that day, was it.”

“Time for the monologue,” Tony commented.

“Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen…”

Odin stared at Loki, looking as though he wanted to say something. As Loki reached the foot of the steps, staring up at his father figure, Odin uttered a “No.”

Viewer Odin winced. Perhaps he had not been the best father to Loki, but he had tried, and to this day he regretted that he had not told his youngest the truth himself. It had isolated Loki and damaged their relationship.

Frigga looked away from the screen, feeling ashamed as well. Thor reached out and placed his hand comfortingly on his brother’s shoulder. For once, Loki did not shrug him off.

“Twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-one…”

A flashback began as Odin explained, “In the aftermath of the battle, I went into the temple, and found a baby.”

“Who would leave a baby all alone?” Maggie asked, concern on her face, as an infant's cry filled the room.

The scene changed to show a little blue baby, clearly distraught as he was picked up.

“Aw, you were such a cute little guy,” Shuri said, grinning madly. “Too bad you grew up.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Loki scowled in her direction, but she merely smirked.

“Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty…”

“Small, for a giant’s offspring, abandoned, suffering,” Odin continued narrating, and the screen showed him looking down at the baby.

“You poor child,” Maria said, giving Loki a look of sympathy. Frigga pulled him into her embrace.

Meanwhile, the bloody hole in Odin’s head where is eye had been elicted a few gasps of horror and screams from the viewers, who hadn’t been expecting something so gory. Maggie and Laura rushed to cover their children’s eyes, and May did the same to Peter, causing him to groan in embarrassment.

“I’ve seen much worse than that, May,” he complained.

“Well, you don’t need to see more than necessary,” she replied, while Peter’s classmates, sans Ned and MJ (because we all know she already knows Peter’s lil secret), exchanged confused looks, wondering what he meant by that.

“Yeah right, Parker,” Flash snorted, choosing his words carefully, because he was in a room full of adults and heroes who probably wouldn’t take too kindly to his nickname for Parker. But he didn’t believe anything Peter said about the internship or the Avengers. Even though Tony Stark was acting like he knew Peter, he was sure the billionaire was just being polite and didn’t really know Parker. It was only a matter of time before the boy was called out on all his lies.

“Fifty-one, fifty-two, fifty-three…”

“Left to die,” Odin continued, as the infant in his arms changed, much like the older Loki, from blue to peach. “Laufey’s son.”

“Why’d they leave you to die?” asked Cooper. “And whose Laufey?”

“Laufey is – was, I suppose – the king of Jotunheim,” Thor explained. “Loki’s father, so he is technically the heir to the throne of the frost giants. As for why he was left there to die…” he trailed off, looking at Odin for answers.

The Allfather did not look at his son, staring resolutely at the screen in lieu of answering.

“Great answer,” Tony said sarcastically.

“Aha! It has been one minute,” Scott announced gleefully. “I have been serious for one minute.”

Peter, Ned, Shuri, Loki, Cassie, Nathaniel, Cooper, and Wanda began applauding him seriously as he bowed and waved, grinning, while Hope, Hank, and a few others joined in sarcastically.

“Congratulations, would you like a trophy?” asked Hope.

“Actually?” Scott asked, looking at her hopefully.

“World’s best grandma,” Cassie sang out.

“Serious scene going on over here,” Gamora interrupted before Scott could reply, gesturing at the screen.

The flashback ended and the screen showed Loki, tears glistening in his eyes as he repeated, “Laufey’s son.” He blinked, then looked at Odin, who whispered, “Yes.”

“I take it he’s not going to react very well to this,” Sam said.

It certainly seemed that way. Viewer Loki groaned as the screen focused on his distraught face.

Loki looked away, seemingly in disbelief, his eyes flicking back and forth as he tried to understand this information. “Why? You were knee-deep in Jotun blood. Why would you take me?”

“You were an innocent child,” Odin answered, only to be cut off almost immediately by Loki.

“No. You took me for a purpose. What was it?”

Frigga and Thor sighed in unison, already knowing the answer.

A lot of the viewers felt a strong dislike for Odin rising up in them. Most of them didn’t know Loki all that well, or they’d heard of him from the battle of New York, but they felt bad for the guy. What a terrible way to discover who you are, to find you were basically being used for another person’s intentions.

Odin and Loki stared at each other intensely, and when the Allfather said nothing, Loki screamed, “TELL ME!”

“Whoa, rage is supposed to be Banner’s department,” Tony said, mostly to ease some of the tension, but he found himself sympathizing with the younger god more and more as the scene went on, painfully familiar with the father figure being portrayed on the screen. Bruce let out a polite laugh to show that he was not offended by the remark, but otherwise, nobody else showed a reaction.

“I thought we could unite our kingdoms one day,” Odin began. “Bring about an alliance, bring about permanent peace, through you.”

“What?” Loki whispered, looking devastated.

Both Gamora and Nebula looked away, feeling anger rising. This scene struck a chord with them, reminding them of their relationship with Thanos. Both were grateful that he had not appeared with them in the room, and they hoped they wouldn’t be seeing too much of him in these videos.

“But those plans no longer matter,” Odin said.

“What does that mean?” Darcy asked.

Jane just shook her head, willing her friend to remain silent.

Tears glistened in Loki’s eyes as he said, “So I am no more than another stolen relic, locked up here until you might have use of me?”

“Why do you twist my words?” Odin demanded.

“Hate to say it, but Loki's kind of right,” Natasha said, looking over at the man with the eyepatch.

Drax frowned, disappointed that the pirate man was not very nice.

“You could have told me what I was from the beginning,” Loki says venomously. “Why didn’t you?”

Again, Frigga and Odin felt shame and regret rising within them. Thor wondered what life might have been like had Loki known his heritage as he grew up. Would things have changed? Would Loki have let go and fallen from the Bifrost? Would Thor have gone to Jotunheim to kill the frost giants had he known his brother was one?

“You’re my son,” said Odin. “I wanted only to protect you from the truth.”

“That backfired,” Steve said drily.

Loki stumbled over his words. “Why? Because I-I am the monster who parents tell their children about at night?”

Sif and the Warriors Three winced, feeling terrible for the way they treated Loki, even now.

“No,” Odin said, suddenly seeming distracted (earning a few concerned or confused looks from viewers who didn’t know about Odinsleep),but Loki spoke over him, his anger evident.

“It all makes sense now, why you favored Thor all these years,” Loki shouted as Odin collapsed to the ground, “because no matter how much you claim to love me, you could never have a frost giant sitting on the throne of Asgard.”

The room was silent at this declaration, nobody knowing what or daring to say anything because Loki looked livid. Even Frigga, rubbing soothing circles on his back, had little effect to calm her son. Internally, Loki was more hurt than angry, bitter that whoever had kidnapped them and forced them to watch these moving pictures had chosen to display this scene. He now knew how the Man of Iron must have felt.

“Brother,” Thor began, finally breaking the silence, but cut off when Loki simply held up his hand.

Odin had completely collapsed at Loki’s feet at this time, fast asleep.

“What the – “ Bucky started, among the many who were completely bewildered. “Why did he fall asleep in the middle of such an important moment?”

Odin shook his head. This was really making him look bad. Why did Odinsleep have to come at the most inconvenient of times?

“Well, that’s convenient,” Shuri stated sarcastically.

“Odin’s A+ Parenting,” a voice whispered, but nobody knew who said it or where it came from.

Loki’s hands hovered over the relaxed form of the Allfather uncertainly, his face concerned before he called, “Guards! Guards, please, help!” The door behind him opened as his summons were answered. Then the screen cut to black.

Again there was silence for a moment as the viewers processed what they had just witnessed.

“Well, that was great,” MJ said.

“Whatever, he still attacked New York,” Flash muttered under his breath, low enough that only people with enhanced senses (so basically Peter) could hear him.

Peter stood up. “You need a hug, Mr. Loki!” With these words, the teen stood up from his seat between MJ and Ned, and to the surprise of his fellow classmates, he strode across the room to where Loki was seated and wrapped his arms around the god. Loki looked at the boy in disbelief, then decided that he actually rather enjoyed the comforting gesture (because Peter definitely gives the best hugs ever) and returned it.

“Tell me your secrets, young Midgardian,” Thor whispered to Peter. Loki never let Thor hug him. This wasn’t fair.

Frigga smiled, glad to see that her son had made a friend.

“Okay, that's adorable and everything, but we gotta keep watching, kiddo,” Tony said.

“Aw, Tony’s just jealous because you didn’t hug him after his scene,” Pepper laughed.

“Oh, Mr. Stark, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know you needed a hug!” Peter beamed.

“That’s because he needs some milk!” Shuri crowed from her seat next to T’Challa. Peter, Loki, Ned, MJ, Scott and Cassie, Clint and his children, and surprisingly, Natasha laughed aloud, while T’Challa and many others rolled their eyes in exasperation. Meanwhile the students of Midtown did a double take, unsure if they had actually just heard the princess of Wakanda quote a vine. Her triumphant grin told them they had.

Peter went and gave Tony a hug, causing the billionaire to grin and stick his tongue out at Pepper, and Flash to splutter in disbelief in the background. When Peter returned to his seat, more words appeared on the screen.

"Hope you all are enjoying. Next up is…"

Chapter Text

Now the viewers watched as a new scene slipped onto the television.

A man in a white shirt, reading a book, sat on a bed in a darkened room. He suddenly looked up and over his shoulder as the shot changed to show a door behind him opening, admitting an older man in a suit, who asked, “May I?” to which the other replied, “Yeah.”

There were a few raised eyebrows at this, as not many of the viewers were able to figure out whose scene they were watching. It was hard to see the young man’s face in the darkness of the room, so that left speculations until his identity was revealed.

Steve, on the other hand, had immediately realized what they were watching, and was torn between embarrassment and fear that they might see some of his earlier Captain America days (especially the parts with the dancing/singing), and a new hope that maybe this mysterious screen would show Peggy. Bucky, as well, was fully aware of who they were watching, if his smirk in Steve’s direction was anything to go by.

The older man, Dr. Erskine, made his way over to the bed opposite Steve, the sound of crickets filling the temporarily silent room. Then Erskine asked, “Can’t sleep?”

Steve gave a laugh. “Got the jitters, I guess.”

“Me too,” said Erskine, taking his seat on the other bed.

“What are these jitters, and how does he have them?” asked Mantis curiously, but nobody bothered to answer, still trying to figure out whose scene they were watching.

“Can I ask you a question?” began Steve, setting his book down beside him, and continued after Erskine gave his assent. “Why me?”

“Is that…who I think it is?” Sam asked, squinting at the person’s face as Movie-Steve’s face was partially illuminated, well enough for the audience to make out some of his features.

“No way, I mean, I knew he was scrawny,” Fury agreed. “Motherfu - ”

“There are small children in this room, Eyepatch,” Tony called over, interrupting the man before he could finish. The director scowled.

“I can 100% confirm that this scene is not about me,” Peter declared happily.

Flash glared at the other. “And why the hell would it be about you, Pe – Parker?” he snapped, almost slipping up but catching himself last minute.

Peter blinked, perhaps realizing what he had just said, and then smiled sheepishly. “Uh…um, because I intern for Mr. Stark?”

Flash rolled his eyes. He was so sick of Parker’s ‘internship’ excuse, and while usually he would jump on the chance to mock him for it, today was different. He looked expectantly in the direction of Tony, surrounded by Pepper and Rhodey, expecting one of them to call Peter out on his BS. But nobody said anything, attention already focused back on the screen.

Erskine took a moment before replying to Steve’s question. “I suppose that is the only question that matters.” Another beat of silence, before he completely switched gears. “This is from Augsberg.”

“Is he seriously talking about that now?” asked MJ.

“Hey, knowing your drinks are important,” Tony joked, and then, upon receiving a smack from Pepper and death glares from May, Laura, Marie, Hill, and Steve, coughed out, “I mean, don’t drink alcohol, kids.”

Peter and Ned snickered.

“My city,” Erskine said, obviously oblivious to the audience. “So many people forget that the first country the Nazis invaded was their own.”

“Who are these…Nazi people?” Mantis asked uncertainly, trying her hand once more at a question. She was not ready for the dark looks many of the Terrans exchanged, and she and the other Guardians (sans Quill, who knew what Nazis were), as well as many of the Asgardians, immediately could tell that they were not nice people, even when nobody offered an explanation.

“You know, after the last war, my people’s struggles,” Erskine continued, “they felt weak, they felt small. Then Hitler comes along, with the marching, and the big show, and the flags, and the, the – “ he cut off, seemingly struggling to remember something, before going on “ – he hears of me.”

“That can’t be good,” said Coulson.

“He hears of my work, and he finds me, and he says, ‘You.’ He says, ‘You will make us strong.’” Here Erskine shrugged. “Well, I am not interested.”

“That also can’t be good,” said Hill.

Erskine set the bottle on the ground. “So, he sends the head of Hydra – “

Barely were the words out of his mouth when an inhuman growl tore from Bucky’s throat, causing a few of the Midtown teens and the younger kids like Cassie and Cooper to scramble away from the man. Steve, Sam, and a few others, including Tony, shot him sympathetic and understanding looks, knowing full well why he had reacted to Erskine’s mention of Hydra. Steve, sitting right next to his best friend, put an arm around his shoulders comfortingly.

“ – his research division,” Erskine was saying, “a brilliant scientist by the name of Johan Schmidt.”

At the mention of the man who became Red Skull, Steve’s jaw clenched, but otherwise he was able to hide any reaction. Others glanced in his direction, as there was no longer doubt in anyone’s minds about whose scene they were watching.

“Now, Schmidt is a member of the inner circle, and he is ambitious. He and Hitler share a passion for cold power. Hitler uses his fantasies to inspire his followers. For Schmidt, it is not fantasy. It is real. He has become convinced that there is a great power hidden within the earth, left here by the gods, waiting to be ceased by a superior man.”

“Great, so not only is he power hungry, but he’s delusional too,” Tony said sarcastically. “Sounds like a lot of villains.”

“I do not like this Schmidt man,” Drax said decidedly.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to,” Quill replied, matching Tony’s sarcasm.

“So, when he hears about my formula, and what it can do,” Erskine explains, with a small smile to Steve, “he cannot resist.”

“Of course not,” T’Challa said with a sigh.

A series of different scenes faded onto the screen, playing out in quick succession, footage of Schmidt demanding that Erskine give him the formula as the doctor’s head remained bowed, then of Schmidt, gun in hand, standing in front of a wall of flames as he spoke, Erskine, desperately shaking his head no.

“Schmidt wants to become that superior man,” Erskine said as in the flashback, he was held at gunpoint.

Then the flashback showed as Schmidt rolled up his sleeve and injected himself with something.

“Don’t do drugs, kids,” Steve said, his tone serious.

Bucky gave his friend a look. “I hate to say this, Steve, but you literally did drugs to become Captain America.”

“I can’t believe I’m agreeing with him, but he’s got a point, you know,” Tony said, smirking at the blonde, whose face was beginning to redden. Sam’s guffawing in the background didn’t help either.

Peter and Ned exchanged looks, before bursting into laughter, causing everyone to look their way.

“What’s so funny?” Flash demanded, and was slightly alarmed when Peter straightened his back and put a hand on his knee like he was posing for his school photo, looking him dead in the eye.

“So, you wanna do drugs,” Peter said in his best Steve-PSA-video voice, and all around him his classmates had miniature meltdowns. Even Coach Wilson couldn’t keep a straight face as his students clutched their stomachs, tears running down their cheeks.

“What is happening?” May asked, minorly alarmed.

“I think Peter broke them,” Wanda said with a straight face.

Steve had a horrible feeling growing in his stomach. Oh god. The PSAs. They still played those in schools? He should’ve burned them when he had the chance, and he was regretting his foolish past-self’s stupid mistake. Oh god, oh god, he was never going to hear the end of it. If those kids let anyone get their hands on those videos, he was never going to live it down.

As the students began to calm down, hiccoughing their way into a jittery silence, Tony said, eyebrows raised at Peter, “Care to explain what that was all about?”

Peter looked like his face was going to split open, he was smiling so widely. He looked at Steve. “I don’t know if I should say.”

“Oh, come on, Peter! The whole world deserves to know about the PSAs!” Betty chirped.

“PSAs?” Tony and Bucky echoed at the same time.

Steve sighed, closing his eyes. There was no point in hiding it any longer. If he seemed super nonchalant about them, then maybe people wouldn’t make a big deal. Who was he kidding. Tony Stark never didn’t make a big deal about things, especially when it came to embarrassing Steve.

“Yeah, a while ago a filmed these PSA videos for schools,” he explained. “It was just a small thing, supposed to help encourage kids to keep learning and do good in school. I didn’t think they’d still be around.”

“Thank God they are,” MJ said under her breath.

“You have got to give me a copy of these,” Shuri said. “They sound absolutely iconic.”

“I will,” Peter said, grinning at the princess.

“Good, otherwise you wouldn’t be my girlfriend anymore,” Shuri smirked, as Peter put a hand to his chest in mock horror, much to the confusion of many Midtown kids.

“Girlfriend?” Cindy repeated.

“You heard me right,” Shuri grinned, before getting up and walking over towards the Midtown students (a few of whom may have fainted from excitement), wedging herself between Peter and Ned, and grabbing Peter’s hand.

“Shuri, not now please,” T’Challa sighed exasperatedly.

“Okay, now that I am questioning humanity and we have all been properly distracted, can we start watching this again?” Natasha asked, and when nobody said anything, the screen began playing again.

“Did it make him stronger?” Steve asked, referring to Schmidt using the serum.

“Look at how small Stevie is!” Sam exclaimed.

“Yeah,” Dr. Erskine replied, his tone suggesting that obviously it did. “But…there were other…effects.”

“Bad ones, I hope,” said Wanda.

In the flashback, Schmidt’s face contorted in pain, beginning to shake as a scream tore from his throat.

“The serum was not ready,” Erskine said calmly. “But more important: the men. The serum amplifies everything that is inside so good becomes great. Bad becomes worse.”

Another bit of silence passed between the two men, before Erskine declared, “This is why you were chosen.”

“He is the Chosen One!” Cassie yelled. “Like Harry Potter!”

“Just like that,” Scott agreed.

“Because a strong man, who has known power all his life, may lose respect for that power,” Erskine continued. “But a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows compassion.”

“Thanks, I think,” Steve replied.

This comment earned a round of laughter from the viewers.

Erskine gestured to the two glasses on the table by Steve’s bed, reaching down to grab the bottle from the ground as Steve grabbed the indicated cups.

“Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing,” Erskine said as he poured them drinks, before closing the bottle and taking one of the glasses from Steve. “That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier. But a good man.”

“I can assure you, he is far from a perfect soldier,” Bucky joked, “He’s stupid a lot of the time, but he’s about as good as they come.”

At these words, Tony couldn’t help but let a scowl slip onto his face. He was reminded vividly again of that fight in the bunker, of the feeling of betrayal as he fought the man who was supposed to be his friend. He swallowed down the emotion quickly, trying to slip back into his relaxed, joking manner. He was kind of successful.

Steve had a small smile on his face. He looked down, before meeting Erskine’s gaze and raising his glass. “To the little guys,” he proposed, and they toasted.

Just as Steve was about to take a sip, Erskine waved his hand and grabbed the glass from him. “No, no, wait, what are you doing? You have a procedure tomorrow, no fluids!”

The viewers laughed again.

“I like this guy,” Natasha smirked.

“Don’t get too attached,” Steve muttered under his breath.

He poured Steve’s share into his own glass as the younger man looked at the ground. “Alright,” said Steve, “we’ll drink it after.

“No, I don’t have a procedure tomorrow,” Erskine said. “I drink it now.”

“I also like this guy,” Tony said over the renewed laughter from the audience.

The screen cut to black, and everyone began to discuss what they had just witnessed, or began speculating about what they would be seeing next. After the chatter began to die out, many returned their attention the screen, expecting words from the mysterious entity that was keeping them both prisoner and entertained. However, a message did not appear. Another scene began to play out.

Erskine appeared, holding what seemed to be a microphone. “Today, we take not another step towards annihilation, but the first step on the path to peace.”

As he spoke, an assistant attached Steve to a large contraption.

“Ah, so this is the scene where you get the serum?” Bruce asked, unable to stop himself from leaning closer to the screen in hopes of getting some information on how the procedure had gone. Around him, others shifted curiously.

Steve nodded.

A round capsule was wheeled onto the floor, and opened to reveal vials of a blue liquid. And, as Erskine continued to explain how the serum worked (Bruce began taking notes) the screen showed a group of men observing the experiment. And in front of them, a young woman in military dress sat down.

Steve felt his breath catch in his throat when he finally saw her. Peggy Carter, looking as beautiful as he remembered her. There had always been a pang in his chest whenever he thought of her, but now, seeing her face, alive and animated and not fading in an unmoving black-and-white photo, it came back with a vengeance. Why wasn’t she here, in this room, watching with them?

Meanwhile, Hill, Coulson, and several other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents found themselves awed by the sight of their founder on the screen.

Assistants began loading the blue vials into the machine, next to Steve.

“Then,” Erskine said, continuing his explanation of the process, “to stimulate growth, the subject will be saturated with Vita-Rays.”

“Vitamins?” Scott asked.

“No, Vita-Rays, you idiot,” Hank huffed out in annoyance, not bothering to elaborate.

“Don’t worry, dude, I’m as confused as you are,” Luis whispered from behind Scott, causing the other to jump in surprise.

“Luis! I forgot you were here!” he exclaimed in happiness.

“I know, dude, it’s been ages since I last talked, and it’s killing me,” Luis said. “But legit I can’t think of anything smart to say, and like, normally I wouldn’t care, you know, but these are like, superheroes, and what my cousin’s girlfriend’s lawnmower’s hairdresser’s psychiatrist had an aunt who got like, smited by a superhero and so I’m scared I’ll say something they won’t like and I’ll like, get, you know, smoted.”

“Is that even a word?” asked Scott.

Darren Cross, subject to Luis's rant, rolled his eyes, unable to believe these idiots had helped defeat him. Hope saw this and glared.

Erskine approached Steve, whose face was scrunched up in pain as an assistant injected something into him before pulling away.

“That wasn’t so bad,” said Steve.

“Yeah, after that long-winded explanation, I was expecting something more…sci-fi,” Monica agreed.

“That was penicillin.”

“Oh,” said Monica as the room around her tittered with laughter.

Steve looked up, now apparently alarmed.

“Serum infusion beginning in five, four, three, two, one.”

A gloved hand moved a lever upwards and the vials of blue liquid emptied themselves, causing Steve to grimace in pain as the process began, for real. Suddenly, his eyes shot open wide, as Erskine looked intently at someone off screen.

“Now, Mr. Stark,” he said, and the television showed a young Howard Stark, who gave a nod and moved something on the dashboard.

At his father’s appearance on the screen, Tony almost choked on his own spit. In retrospect, he probably should’ve realized that, with Steve getting the serum and Howard’s involvement with that experiment, Howard would appear on the screen at some point, but he hadn’t, and even if he had, he didn’t think he’d be prepared. The sight of his father, looking much younger and less stern than Tony could remember was an unpleasant shock.

Both Steve and Bucky grimaced at the mention of Howard, glancing sideways at Tony to make sure the billionaire was okay. They’d all been getting along so well, it was almost okay to pretend that the civil war hadn’t happened. But both men, as well as a great many others, were well aware and cautious of the tension between Tony and Steve.

The capsule began to fold in on itself, rotating upwards to that it was vertical, before closing around Steve with an ominous clang. Up in the viewing room, Peggy watched on, swallowing nervously.

An assistant in white attached a steaming tube to the capsule, screwing it in. Erskine approached the head of the capsule, rapping a few times and saying, “Steven? Can you hear me?”

A muffled voice replied. “It’s probably too late to go to the bathroom, right?”

The audience laughed again but it sounded more forced than previously. Despite knowing Steve made it through the serum procedure okay, there was still a feeling of heavy anxiety filling the air, from both the scene and also the tension from before.

“Yep, too late, Steve,” Bucky said in an effort to make things a little more casual. “And unfortunately, I don’t think Erskine gave you a diaper.”

"Also, there's the sci-fi I was expecting," Monica added.

Erskine nodded as if to say, “Yeah, he’s ready.” He turned to face the scientists surrounding him, simply uttering, “We will proceed.”

Below, Howard moved to a new location on the large control board, which displayed an array of various buttons, levers, and shiny things. He found a black knob and turned it while the men in the viewing room looked around with growing anticipation. Then Howard put on a pair of dark glasses.

“What are those for?” asked Peter curiously.

“Gotta look stylish during serum injection,” Tony snarked.

“Nah, it got really bright,” Steve recalled. “Vita Rays, remember?”

“Ah, yes, the vitamins,” Scott whispered to Cassie and Luis.

Glasses secure, Howard began turning one of the many assorted wheels on the control board, moving the arrow closer and closer to 100%.

“That’s ten percent,” Howard reported as the chamber began to glow a blinding, white light. He continued to announce the increasing percentages as the scientists began to shield their eyes.

“Vital signs are normal,” another man reported.

And then, when Howard reached 70%, a screaming rose up from the chamber, quiet at first, but quickly growing loud enough that even the people upstairs could hear Steve’s cry of pain.

Around the room, viewers exchanged looks of horror, having no idea how painful the serum injection had been for Steve. The man himself winced remembering how much the procedure had hurt, but thankful that he had gone through with it.

Steve’s cries were enough to draw Peggy from her seat. Her leaving exposed another man, dark haired with glasses, to the camera. He leaned forward, intrigued.

“I feel like he’s an important dude,” Scott commented. He and most others missed the small frown that made its way to Steve’s face.

Erskine ran to the brightly glowing chamber, shouting, “Steven! Steven!” as Peggy reached the top of the stairs, yelling, “Shut it down!”

“Kill the reactor, Mr. Stark!” Erskine commanded, whirling away from the chamber and pointing in the direction of Howard.

“No!” a large amount of the viewers shouted. That wasn’t supposed to happen.

Bucky’s eyebrows were raised. He didn’t know how painful the procedure had been for Steve, to the point where they had almost stopped it completely.

“What happened to Steve ‘I Could Do This All Day’ Rodgers?” Sam tried to joke.

Howard made to follow the orders, but before he could, Steve shouted, “No! No! Don’t! I can do this!”

“There he is,” Sam said rather smugly.

“I totally could have done this in a way that wouldn’t have caused him any pain,” Shuri declared, still sitting between Ned and Peter.

“I’m sure you could have,” Okoye said, while T’Challa rolled his eyes at his sister and Nakia smiled fondly at the princess.

Stark and Erskine shared a look, before Howard returned to the wheel and resumed turning it, the needle inching closer and closer to 100%. He continued to report the percentage.

The glow by now was so bright that Erskine and others were having difficulty looking at the capsule where Steve was.

Even some of the viewers were squinting at the screen.

The needle at last reached 100%. The chamber glowed brighter than ever, and around Howard, the control board began sparking, causing other electric devices around the room to short-circuit. Erskine backed away from the chamber, while other assistants held their positions, wearing goggles of their own.

“My question is, why is everyone else in the room wearing those goggles and not Dr. Erskine himself?” Clint remarked.

“Yeah, you would think he would have a pair,” agreed his wife. “But the people in the booth, as well as Agent Carter, also aren’t wearing anything to protect their eyes.”

Suddenly the bright light from the capsule, casting the rest of the room in relative darkness, save for the continued sparking from other machines.

From her position on the stairs, Peggy waited apprehensively. Save from a whirring from the chamber, the room was silent. Erskine slowly lowered his hand from his eyes. Behind him, the men watching from the upstairs room slowly stood up, crowding towards the glass so as to get the best view of what was happening below. Howard slowly lowered his stylish glasses.

“Oh, come on, just open the thing!” Flash complained. “We all know it worked!”

“Yeah, but at the time they didn’t,” MJ shot back. She found her crisis sketchbook, and flipped it open, internally delighted that the mysterious entity had not stolen her creative outlet. She began scanning the room for faces in crisis, disappointed to see that nobody looked too dismayed. She settled on watching Steve, certain that at some point or another, something would happen.

“Also drama,” Ned added to MJ’s explanation.

“Mr. Stark!” Erskine yelled back at the scientist, and seconds later, the chamber opened revealing post-serum Steve in all his glory.

“OH MY GOD HE’S SO FRICKIN’ HOT!” screamed one of the girls from Midtown. She and her friends started shrieking and clinging to each other, nearly swooning. A few of the guys also couldn’t help but stare, but who could blame them? The dude was super ripped.

While most others didn’t have a reaction quite as drastic as the Midtown girls, some of the women found themselves averting their gazes from the screen. Laura covered her children’s eyes. Sam let out a low whistle while both Tony and Bucky burst into laughter, not only from the audience’s reactions but also due to the look of pure mortification on Steve’s face.

MJ, meanwhile, was practically cackling with glee as her pencil moved furiously over the pages of her sketchbook, capturing Captain America’s look in paper forever.

“Oh, take a picture, it’ll last longer,” Steve managed to utter once things had quieted down a little.

“I already did, Mr. Captain America sir,” Peter said, waving.

“As did I,” Shuri said, tapping the kimoyo beads around her wrist triumphantly. “Now I’ve got blackmail.”

Steve groaned and prayed that this scene would be over soon.

Erskine helped the man from the capsule, while the onlookers from the booth rose to their feet, clamoring excitedly.

“Son of a bitch did it,” Colonel Phillips said, shaking his head.

“Language!” chorused a majority of the Avengers, earning puzzled looks from others who didn’t understand the joke.

“That was one time!” Steve protested, while MJ began drawing a new crisis sketch of him.

As the men begin to exit the viewing room, the camera lingers on the same dark-haired, spectacled man from before. As he too rises from his seat, he leaves behind an unmarked, metal case of some sort.

“Yeah, definitely a bad guy if I ever saw one,” Scott said with a firm nod of his head. Behind him, Darren Cross scowled.

Steve frowned, knowing exactly what happened next and wishing, not for the first and certainly not the for the last time, that he had known what was going to happen, and the somehow he might’ve been able to save Erskine from being killed.

Back in the experiment room, Howard and Erskine helped a breathless Steve down from the capsule.

“We did it,” Steve panted out, to which Howard and Erskine both hurriedly assured him that they indeed had.

Peggy hurried to come face to face with Steve. “How do you feel?” she asked after a moment.

“Taller,” Steve managed.

“Yeah, no kidding,” Sam said.

Peggy nodded, her hand going out to touch one of Steve’s pecs almost of its own accord. She quickly pulled back.

A few girls let out jealous sounds, wishing they could be in Peggy’s place.

“You look taller,” Peggy finally answered, grabbing a shirt from an assistant nearby and giving it to Steve.

“How you feel about Brooklyn now, senator?” asked Colonel Phillips to one of the men in a suit.

“I can think of some folks in Berlin who are about to get very nervous,” the senator replied.

“That line felt kind of ominous,” Rocket remarked.

The camera pushed past more men and again found the dark-haired man from earlier, looking around him before gazing upwards. He pulled out a lighter, flipping it open. Erskine saw the man, looking at him suspiciously. Before he could say anything, the viewing room where all the men and Peggy had been earlier exploded in a bright wall of flames, glass shattering down on the people below.

“Told you he was a bad guy,” Scott said, as though anybody had doubted him in the first place.

“He must be with Hydra,” Bucky said with a scowl fixed in place.

“Stop him!” Erskine shouted as the man grabbed the last remaining vial of the serum and pocketed it.

“Well, that’s awfully convenient that there happened to be one left,” May frowned.

The man raised his gun and fired twice, both shots hitting Erskine in the chest. A woman screamed loudly in the background.

“NO!” many people yelled, horrified at what had just played out in front of their eyes, but they could only watch helplessly.

MJ closed her crisis sketchbook, feeling unusually sympathetic towards Steve. He had a look of torment on his face, but she figured, out of respect, that she shouldn’t draw the expression.

The man fled up the stairs, encountering a guard who he quickly shot down. From the experiment room, Peggy fired her gun at the running man, managing to wound him.

“YASS QUEEN!” Shuri shouted. “You make us proud!”

Steve smiled. Peggy was certainly a queen, though not of the royal variety.

Steve crouched down next to the fallen Erskine, rolling the doctor over. The dying man said nothing, simply poking Steve’s chest a few times emphatically before closing his eyes forever.

“He died?” Rhodey asked, and looked solemn when Steve nodded.

Tony swallowed hard. The scene reminded him of Yinsen’s demise in Afghanistan.

Around the room, the viewers held a moment of silence to remember the man who had died long ago, but whose death they were now just mourning.

Steve looked up, a new fire burning in his eyes.

Upstairs, the fleeing man encountered an old woman, who desperately fired at him, all in vain. She fell to the ground, the man stopping only to grab the gun she had used. He ran into the street, shouting. A man undercover yelled and shot at him, and two others began firing as well, accidentally taking their own man down. The dark-haired man got into the passenger seat of a nearby car.

“So much violence,” May sighed.

“Come on, Steve,” Bucky said under his breath.

The car pulled away from the curb. As he raced away, he shot at the other two men on the street, taking them down just as Peggy ran onto the road. As she aimed, the fleeing man detonated something in the car beside her, which caused her to start in surprise. However, she quickly recovered, aiming carefully before pulling the trigger. She took out the man driving the escape vehicle.

“She is a goddess,” Shuri said in awe, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the room nodded appreciatively at her aim.

With its driver dead, the car crashed into the side of another. A taxi driver hopped out of his cab to the sound of squealing wheels, running to help the dead man as the other, gun in hand, quickly commandeers the deserted taxi and taking off.

Peggy raises her gun as he races towards her rapidly.

“GET OUT OF THE STREET!” Monica screamed.

“If anything happens to her, I will kill everybody in this room and then myself,” Peter declared passionately.

Tony gave him a weird look. “Kid, you know we weren’t the ones that did anything to her?”

She fires, once, twice, puncturing the windshield of the cab but the man does not stop. Just as the cab is about to hit her, Steve tackles her to the side.

“That was a close one,” Bucky said, letting out a sigh of relief. He was glad to see Peggy had gone unharmed.

“She totally could have taken him down,” Shuri said with a pout.

As the taxi raced away, both Peggy and Steve got to their feet.

“I had him!” Peggy shouted angrily.

“See?” Shuri said emphatically.

“Sorry!” Steve yelled, beginning to run after the escaping car.

As the car took a sharp left, Steve cut across an alle way in hopes of cutting the vehicle off. He ran into a busy street with honking automobiles, running onto the sidewalk and never letting the yellow taxi out of his sights.

“Look at all those old cars,” Cassie exclaimed.

However, Steve lost his balance and went crashing into a bridal shop, the front glass shattering as he fell and several women letting out surprised shouts.

“Smooth, Capsicle, real smooth,” Tony commented as others laughed at Steve’s misfortune.

He ran back into the street, shattering another window and shouting his apologies as he continued the chase.

“Okay, am I the only one bothered by the fact he’s not wearing any shoes, and he just stepped in glass?” Hope asked.

“Yeah, it didn’t hurt at the time because of all the adrenaline, but later wasn't so fun," Steve said. 

He ran through another alley, which was blocked by a gate. Without slowing down, and clearly bracing himself, Steve left, arms flailing, over the obstacle, easily regaining his footing and running into another busy street, holding his hand out to stop the oncoming cars.

“Hey! I did that too!” Peter said, perfectly oblivious to the fact what he was saying was probably suspicious because no average teenager who wasn’t a superhero vigilante would be able to do what Steve had just done. “The leaping over gate thing, not the running into a busy street thing. Well, actually I have, but – “

“Kid,” Tony sighed in fond exasperation. “You are honestly going to be the death of me.”

May frowned at both Peter and Tony. “You and I are going to be having a talk about your escapades, Pete.”

Peter groaned, becoming suddenly aware of his classmates eyeballing him weirdly. Before anybody could ask questions, the scene continued.

Steve continued the chase, the fleeing man watching his approach from the rearview mirror of the taxi.

“Wish I could run that fast,” Abe sighed. “Imagine how quickly you could finish the mile runs we have to do.”

The dark-haired man swerved again onto another street, and without hesitation, Steve jumped on top of one of the moving vehicles, proceeding to leap from one automobile to another until he landed on the roof of the taxi.

“I’m kind of surprised that worked,” Pepper said.

“It is rather efficient,” Peter muttered, under his breath this time. But the CEO of Stark Industries, Tony, and May, with their radar parent ears, still heard the teen.

The taxi swerved in an attempt to get Steve to fall off, but he clung tightly. They flew through a narrow alley. The man driving raised his gun to the ceiling and began firing, trying to injure Steve and cause him to fall from the roof. Steve managed to avoid the shots but doing so caused him to lose his hold on the roof of the car and tumble to the side, dodging another bullet as he clung to the car.

Distracted, the fleeing man did not see the vehicle in front of him and went crashing full speed into it. The taxi went rolling, one of the doors falling off and onto the street with a clatter. The car landed upright and the man stumbled from the seat and climbed to his feet, quickly firing at Steve while behind him a crowd of people screamed and ran for cover. He turned his gun on them.

“Oh god, don’t tell me he’s going to do what I think he’s going to do,” Marie said, her voice hard with anger and fear.

As the man was temporarily distracted by the fleeing people, Steve grabbed a hold of the car door and raised it protectively, like a shield.

“Wow, foreshadowing much?” said Tony.

“What do you mean?” Steve asked.

“Obviously you using the door is alluding to the shield you have,” Tony explained, like ‘duh.’ “There’s even a star, like on your shield.”

“Oh, that’s kind of neat, actually,” Bucky said.

“How did you take down Captain America?” Shuri shouted.

Much to literally everyone’s surprise, it was not Peter, Ned, MJ, nor any of the Midtown students who replied.

“We shot him in the legs, because his shield is the size of a dinner plate, and he is an idiot,” replied Loki in his best accent. Thor stared at his brother as though he had just grown a second head (or perhaps a better example because Thor had already seen Loki grow a second head, but you get the picture).

There was a beat of silence as everyone registered that Loki, a thousand year old god, had just made a vine reference. Then Shuri and Peter stood up, applauding loudly, as Ned, MJ, and slowly the rest of Midtown joined in.

“That was beautiful,” Shuri said, wiping a fake tear from her eye. “I couldn’t have put it better myself.”

Loki’s face twisted into a smile.

“You are officially inducted into the Kool Kidz Klub,” Peter added, offering the god his hand, which Loki shook.

“I have officially lost it,” Tony declared. “This must be an alternate dimension of some sort."

“Sorry, Stark, but I can confirm that this is not,” Strange said from his seat, simply smirking when Tony sent a glare his way.

“Anyway, as amazing as that was,” Wanda said, having given Loki a high five and returned to her seat, “can we please finish watching this scene?”

The dark-haired man set his sights on a mother desperately trying to escape with her child, pulling the small boy away from his frantically pleading mother.

“Son of a – “ Clint said darkly as both he and Laura pulled their three children closer around them.

Frigga frowned disapprovingly, hoping that the boy would make it out unscathed.

"Yup, he did it," Marie said darkly.

Steve threw down his makeshift shield as the man continued to struggle with the boy, picking him up and aiming his gun at the approaching Steve. He fired, missing, as the mother was pulled away by a group of spectators and the boy shouted, “Let me go!”

The man fled up an alley with the boy. Steve crouched behind a large object as several more shots were fired towards him, much to the mother’s anguish.

“That poor woman,” Natasha sympathized.

Steve, seeing that the man had ducked out of the alley, sprinted towards him again. The man, seeing Steve in the doorway, put the gun to the boy’s head.

There were exclamations of outrage and fear from the viewers.

“Wait, don’t!” Steve shouted, putting his hands up and approaching slowly. The man pulled the gun from the boys head and aimed at Steve, letting out an annoyed noise as he realized that he was out of bullets. Without hesitation he picked up the boy and threw him into the bay before fleeing.

Steve ran to help the boy, who, upon seeing him, shouted, “Go get him! I can swim!” before turning to find a way out of the water.

“Thank god,” Maggie said.

“Hope he finds his mother okay,” Paxton added.

Now Steve turned to find the man. The water began to bubble as a submarine emerged from the depths, opening to admit the man who quickly boarded and began to drive away. Steve, seeing this, leaped gracefully into the water after the escaping vehicle.

“Ever consider a career in diving?” Tony asked.

Steve just gave him a weird look.

The submarine sank rapidly, the man inside unaware of Steve’s rapid approach. Grabbing hold, Steve punched through one of the windows, causing the cockpit to rapidly fill with water. The man took a deep breath, flailing around as Steve pulled him out. Suddenly the man was thrown onto the hard rock of pavement, Steve climbing from the water seconds later.

“Damn, how long were you holding your breath for?” asked Sam with genuine curiosity.

Steve shrugged nonchalantly. “Only a couple of minutes.”

“Only?”

The man tried to jab at Steve but failed, falling to the ground after a few well-placed blows. The blue vial of serum fell from his pocket and shattered as Steve pushed him to the ground, preventing him from getting back up.

Grabbing him by his lapels, Steve demanded, “Who the hell are you?”

“LANGUAGE!” more people, not just the Avengers this time, chorused on cue.

“That was one time!” Steve complained good-naturedly. “And besides, hell isn’t even that bad of a word!”

“LANGUAGE!”

“The first of many,” the man replied, pride in his voice, removing a false tooth and biting into it. “Cut off one head, two more shall take its place.”

“Yep, definitely Hydra,” Sam said.

“We already knew that, though,” Bucky all but growled.

Frothing at the mouth, the man managed his last words. “Hail, Hydra.”

A few people made noises of disgust as the man died, but other than that nobody knew what to say as the scene ended, and the screen went to black.

“Is that it?” asked Pepper.

“What do you mean, that was so long!” Steve said. “That wasn’t one scene, that was three.”

Words appeared on the screen.

Yeah, about that, they read, from now on, while I introduce each person, there will probably be multiple scenes.

“Why didn’t I get multiple scenes?” Tony whined, although he was actually glad that beyond his abduction in Afghanistan, nothing else had been shown.

Don’t worry, Tony, we’ll come back to you. Next up, we will be watching…

Chapter Text

The camera panned over a snow-covered, tree-filled landscape, following the progress of a large truck on an icy road.

There were a few raised eyebrows as the viewers saw this image, particularly Steve, Bucky, and Tony, as it reminded them of Siberia. Bruce, on the other hand, had a sinking feeling about what scene was being shown.

There were a few more seconds as the truck meandered along the path, making its way around corners, a few birds flying away from the vehicle as it honked. An older, bearded man could be seen through the icy window on the driver’s side. He spared a glance at his silent companion, who faced away from the screen, staring out the window. He was wearing dark glasses and a hat.

Some people whispered “Who is that?” and “What are we watching?” but nobody could give a confident response. Natasha had been scanning faces. She knew that the person featured in the scene often knew before anyone else, and usually didn’t do a very good job of hiding it. And right now, she was fairly positive that Bruce, sitting right next to her, ( and considering his sudden paling) was the person in this video.

The truck squealed to a stop, and the man from before slowly made his way from the cab, jumping onto the snowy road with a crunch before heading into the forest of trees with a backpack and snow shoes, not looking back at the driver, he gave him a last look. The truck pulled away.

The shot changed to show the man struggling to make his way up a white hill, wading through thick banks of snow.

“This seems like an awfully inconvenient place to go camping,” Tony remarked. 

Bruce scowled. “This scene seems fairly irrelevant to everything else we’ve been watching. Maybe we should skip it.” 

This comment earned a few confused and suspicious looks from the others in the room, but nobody said anything, although now Natasha knew without a doubt that this scene had something to do with Bruce, and quite a few others seemed to be thinking along the same lines.

The man finally reached a plateau of the peak he was climbing, the camera panning upwards to reveal a massive wall of ice in front of him. He removed his bag with a little trouble, setting it down and moving away from it. The wind had picked up by now, howling and blowing snow towards the man, but he continued to struggle upwards, the camera suddenly changing to show that he had come a long way.

“Wait, why did he just abandon his bag there?” asked Scott. “Doesn’t he need it to go camping or whatever?”

“At this point, I really don’t think he’s going camping, Tic-Tac,” Sam said, shaking his head.

“Then what – “ Scott broke off, afraid to continue his sentence.

The man collapsed onto his knees, panting for breath. He peeled off his hat and glasses, revealing –

“Bruce Banner?” a large majority of the room said in disbelief, while people like Natasha, Bucky, Nebula, Gamora, and a few others rolled their eyes, having known who the man was for a while now.

“Yep, it’s me, great,” Bruce tried to laugh, but he knew what this scene was about and he wanted to know why the mysterious entity had chosen to show them this.“Now you know it’s me, wonderful, maybe we should just skip this scene now.”

“It can’t be too bad, friend Bruce,” Thor offered.

“Yeah, our scenes were already pretty terrible,” Tony added.

“Oh no, this is much worse,” Bruce sighed, putting his head in his hands.

A scream overcame the dramatic music playing in the background and suddenly a flashback of a woman, Betty Ross, lying on the ground eyes closed with blood all over her face, momentarily appeared on screen.

Leading to a shout from a few people at the sudden sight. As she’d been doing often, Laura found herself trying to cover her three children’s eyes. Maggie did the same for Cassie, who let out a protest. Bruce himself winced upon seeing the face of the woman.

Surrounded by the snowy landscape, Bruce tried to hold back tears, pain written all over his face. He nodded, like he knew what he had to do, before pulling up his coat to reveal a concealed gun.

“Oh god,” Tony said suddenly in shock and horror. He put two and two together, remembering what Bruce had said to him so long ago when the Avengers had first banded together. Around him, the other five original Avengers seemed to also realize what the screen was showing, and shot Bruce looks of sympathy, which the scientist ignored.

He pulled out the gun, aiming it down and away from him as he stared at it. Before he could do anything, his eyes suddenly went green and as the camera switched to the sky, a loud growl echoed through the air.

Bruce’s face was darker than any of his friends had ever recalled seeing it. Natasha tentatively reached out to put a hand on his shoulder, but he frantically shook his head, fearing that the Other Guy might come bursting into the room at any time.

Green hands crashed to the ice, one still holding tightly to the loaded gun, which opened upwards and promptly crushed the gun in a fist as the Hulk let out another thunderous roar, loud enough to send the ice tumbling downwards into the frozen water below. As the cracking ice rapidly approached, the screen cut to black.

There was silence again in the room as viewers again processed what they had witnessed, sending nervous looks in Bruce’s direction. The unease was driving him crazy.

“It’s fine, guys,” he said after a little. “Obviously it didn’t work. I’m here now.”

Tony offered him a smile. “We’re glad for that, buddy. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have my science bro.”

Bruce managed a small smile as a few others hastened to say other comforting words. Perhaps he didn’t always feel this way, but at that moment he was grateful that he hadn’t succeeded, and that he had found this amazing people to spend his life with.

“Mr. Banner, we think you’re amazing!” Peter added from his seat. “We worship you. You are like, a science god. I’ve read all your papers on gamma radiation and they are amazing! You’re probably smarter than Mr. Stark!”

“Hey!” Tony said, pretending to be insulted (Flash let out a real sound of offence at Peter’s blatant disrespect of such a brilliant figure). “But actually, Bruce, we’re glad to have you around.”

“Thanks,” Bruce managed, then smiled for real. “At least I’m done with my scene now.”

A little girl ran frantically through a crowd of people as pop music and loud voices blurred together in the background.

“I think you spoke too soon, friend Banner,” Thor put in helpfully.

 She ran into a shack where a man spoke angrily in another language. A woman saw the girl’s entrance.

“What are you doing here? Get out! You shouldn’t be hear!” she said angrily at the girl. Behind her, Bruce stood at a sink, drying his hands off as he watched the girl through the mirror.

“Where are you now?” asks Cassie curiously.

“India,” came the terse reply.

“I have to see the doctor!” the girl said. “It’s my father!”

A lot of people felt their hearts go out to the little girl, all too familiar with the figure of a dying parent.

“Calm down,” Bruce said in the same language. “What’s wrong?”

He got a few surprised and impressed looks from others.

“Come on, guys, I have seven PhD’s, why is it such a surprise that I can speak other languages?” he asked.

“My father,” the girl said sadly, looking towards a bed where a man sat attending the sick.

“Is he like them?” asked Bruce.

“Please,” the little girl said, in English this time, holding out all the money she had.

“How could you say no to her?” Scott said.

The girl led Bruce through the darkened streets as a government vehicle drove by. Bruce quickly hid his face until the car passed, and then allowed the girl the lead him onward.

The girl ran quickly into a small shack. Pushing a few clothes back, Bruce followed her inside, watching as she nimbly scampered upwards and escaped out a window, leaving him alone in the room.

“What was that for? What about her father?” Scott asked in confusion.

“It was a set up,” Natasha said plainly, giving Bruce an apologetic look.

Bruce laughed humorlessly as he watched the girl disappear. “Should’ve got paid up front, Banner.”

“You know, for a man who’s supposed to be avoiding stress, you picked a hell of a place to settle,” came a woman’s voice, and Natasha emerged from the shadows.

A few people looked surprised to see the Black Widow there, but otherwise nobody made a comment.

Bruce turned to face her. “Avoiding stress isn’t the secret.”

“Then what is it, yoga?” Natasha asked.

Some laughed.

Bruce smiled at her. “You brought me to the edge of the city. Smart. I assume the whole place is surrounded,” he said, walking towards a window and looking around outside.

“Just you and me,” Natasha replied after a moment, walking towards him slowly.

“I’m still sorry about this,” the red-haired woman said now.

“Whatever, it’s in the past now,” Bruce responded.

“And your actress buddy, is she a spy too?” Bruce said, gesturing towards the window where the little girl had escaped. “Do they start that young?”

“I did,” Natasha replied.

A few people wore looks of shock and anger. Bucky himself was scowling, Natasha’s words reminding him of his time with Hydra. Natasha looked down at her own hands, swallowing a lump in her throat as she tried to hide the emotions that were threatening to spill onto her face. So far the screen had showed all of her teammates stories except for Hawkeye’s and her own, but she knew that it was only a matter of time before her own life began to play for everyone. And she knew that she was not going to be happy with what she was going to see.

“Who are you?” Bruce asked.

“Obviously the Black Widow!” a few Midtown students chorused.

“Natasha Romanoff,” the other answered after a heartbeat of silence.

“Whoa, plot twist right there,” Tony snarked, mostly because everyone was being unusually quiet and he didn’t like it.

Pepper hit him, and Natasha sent him a half-hearted glare.

Bruce looked down, as though sifting through his thoughts, and then looked back up at the spy. “Are you here to kill me, Ms. Romanoff?” he asked. “Because that’s not gonna work out for everyone.”

Many viewers winced, reminded of the scene they had just witnessed.

“No, no,” Natasha replied quickly. “Of course not. I’m here on behalf of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

“S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Banner echoed after a moment. “How’d they find me?"

“We have our ways,” Fury said ominously from the background. Hill snorted.

“We never lost you, Doctor,” Natasha said by way of explanation. “We’ve kept our distance, even helped keep some other interested parties off your scent.”

“Why?” asked Bruce.

“Fury seems to trust you,” Natasha said.

“Right,” Carol said sarcastically. “I don’t think Fury’s trusted anyone since – “

“Shut the hell up, Danvers,” Fury barked, sending her into gales of laughter. “In this household, we do not speak of that.”

“Okay, now I gotta know what’s going on,” Shuri said, eyebrows raised.

“You will never find out,” Fury said, sending a dark look towards the still-laughing Captain Marvel.

“Oh god, I hope they do,” she smiled. “It is one of my most cherished memories.”

“See, this,” Fury said, pointing emphatically towards the blonde, “this is the reason why I don’t trust people.”

“If you say so,” Carol taunted.

"But now we need you to come in,” Natasha was saying.

"What if I say no?” Banner asked.

“I’ll persuade you,” Natasha said.

"And what if the…Other Guy says no?” continued Bruce after a moment.

“You’ve been more than a year without an incident,” Natasha replied simply, walking away from him. “I don’t think you want to break that streak.”

Bruce sighed.

“Well I don’t every time get what I want,” Bruce said, fiddling with something on one of the desks.  

“More like never,” Bruce put in. Natasha reached out, putting a hand over his comfortingly.

“Doctor, were facing a potential global catastrophe,” Natasha said, a device in hand.

“Well those I actively try to avoid,” said Bruce with a laugh.

This also earned a few laughs from the viewers.

“Haven’t been doing a very good job of that lately, have you,” Clint grinned towards the doctor.

“Obviously not,” came the reply.

“This,” continued Natasha, holding up the device, which had an image of a familiar glowing cube, before sliding it towards Bruce, “is the Tesseract.”

“Hate that thing,” Clint said, glaring pointedly at Loki, who returned his gaze coolly.

“It has the potential energy to wipe out the planet.”

“What does Fury want me to do? Swallow it?” Bruce asked the now seated Natasha.

Both Fury and Carol let out a huff of laughter at this line (Fury laughing caused some minor alarm).

“He wants you to find it,” Natasha explained. “It’s been taken."  

Clint had a sudden and inexplicable coughing fit. If one listened closely, it almost sounded like he was saying something. “Cough-cough-cough-thanks-a-lot-Loki-cough-cough-cough.”

“It appears that Terran has fallen ill,” Mantis said, concern on her face, remembering the time that Quill had caught a cold and been miserable for a solid week.

“It admits a gamma signature that is too weak for us to trace,” Natasha went on. “There’s no one that knows gamma radiation like you do.”

“Thanks,” Bruce said drily while the students of Midtown began nodding fervently.

“Can I have your autograph, Dr. Banner, sir?” Ned finally worked up the courage to ask the scientist.

“Of course, Ned,” Bruce said with a smile, and as he signed it, Ned practically fainted from excitement (Peter just looked at his friend strangely. Ned had met Bruce before. Ned had worked with him before. Ned knew Bruce already. Why was he fanboying?). Meanwhile both Ms. Warren and Mr. Harrington, and most of Midtown, looked like they too wanted Bruce's autograph. 

“If there was, that’s where I’d be,” Natasha finished.

“So Fury isn’t after the monster,” said Bruce, taking off his glasses.

“Riiiiiiiiight,” Bruce said, sounding unusually sarcastic.

“Not that he’s told me.” Natasha leaned backwards in her seat.

“And he tells you everything,” Bruce stated.

“Talk to Fury,” came the reply as she began sitting back up. “He needs you on this.”

“He needs me in a cage,” Bruce said.

“No one’s going to put you – “ began Natasha, but Bruce cut her off, slamming his hands down on the table in front of her.

“STOP LYING TO ME!”

The sudden outburst caught many by surprise and caused Peter to wince from the noise.

Immediately Natasha dropped her relaxed and calm demeanor, jumping to her feet and aiming a loaded gun at Bruce.

“I’m sorry again, Bruce,” Natasha repeated.

“It’s fine, and I’m sorry, that was mean,” Bruce said, feeling uncomfortable under all the stares he was now receiving.

There was silence as Bruce pulled away and stood upright again. “I’m sorry, that was mean. I just wanted to see what you would do. Why don’t we do this the easy way where you don’t use that - ” he indicated the gun “ – and the Other Guy doesn’t make a mess.”

“Sounds good to me,” Clint agreed.

“Okay, Natasha?” Bruce asked the spy, who was still gazing at him with her gun leveled.

After a moment of silence, Natasha reached up to her ear and spoke. “Stand down. We’re good here.”

Outside, soldiers who had been standing ready for orders retreated.

“What happened to, ‘it’s just you and me?’” Tony joked lightly, receiving glares from multiple people.

Bruce had a small smile on his face. “Just you and me.”

And the screen faded to black there, as people burst into conversation on the scene they had just witnessed. But barely were their first words out of their mouths when another scene appeared.

On Bruce Banner, who appeared to be falling from a great height.

Many looked alarmed at this sudden change in action. 

The woman from the first scene, no longer lying injured and unmoving on the ground, watched his still body fall from the door of a helicopter, looking down at him helplessly.

“Okay, I have to know, who is she?” asked Pepper.

“That’s Betty Ross,” Bruce replied.

“Like, the woman who made the American Flag?” asked Cindy.

“No, that was Betsy Ross,” Liz corrected, rather disappointed in Cindy.

“Well, that was an unexpected scene change,” Clint commented drily. “What’s happening now?”

“Watch and you’ll see,” Bruce replied.

“And I will beeeeeeeeeeee,” Shuri wailed in her purposely off-key rendition of Disney’s ‘Part of Your World’.

“PART OF YOUR WORLD,” Peter, Ned, and Cassie finished. A few of the students sitting around Ned and Peter edged away from the duo, looking a bit disturbed by their antics, while MJ simply shook her head at them in complete and utter disappointment. Scott gave Cassie a high five.

Bruce stared at Shuri and decided he would never talk again.

As he fell, Bruce, now awake, squinted his eyes in concentration before opening them wide, the lights of the city growing closer and closer as he fell in slow motion.

“Almost as dramatic as that bit we saw with Thor, whose really not as attractive as everyone thinks he is,” said Quill, while many people looked at him, unable to believe that he had just called the God of Thunder unattractive. Thor did not bother rebuking him. It wasn’t worth his effort, and besides, he kind of agreed with the Midgardian. There had definitely been some rather overdramatic parts during his scenes. And besides, everybody knew he was very attractive. That went without saying. 

Suddenly time sped up and he slammed into the ground, cracking the road beneath him and sending bystanders screaming.

Bruce winced, remembering how much the impact had hurt. Aunt May, Maggie, Laura, and a few others let out cries of surprise, having thought that Bruce would transform into the Hulk and somehow avoid hitting the ground.

“Put her in here!” ordered an older man as the other woman on the screen gasped in horror.

The Avengers groaned upon seeing the face of one Thaddeus Ross.

“I hate that guy,” Rhodey said. “He’s always on my case about everything.”

“Come on!” Ross shouted.

The area where Bruce had smashed into the ground was cracked, dust rising, but otherwise there was no movement. Suddenly, a green fist slammed through the rubble.

Seeing the hand, Ross turned up and called Betty’s name. Below, lights flashes as people ran to and fro, screaming in terror.

“Why aren’t they getting out of there?” Darcy wanted to know. “Seems like they just keep running back and forth in the same place.”

"Yeah, throughout this whole fight there were a lot of civilians," Bruce said with another wince, remembering the extent of the damage. He thought he heard screams of terror echoing in his ears, but then realized that he was hearing them from the scene that was playing out.

Hulk clambered from the wreckage, a car in front of him on fire.

“Yikes,” Christine breathed from her seat next to Stephen. She hoped nobody was too badly injured. There were probably police on the scene, but the only cop car she’d seen had been on fire. “Him falling caused all that damage?”

Having cleared the debris, Bruce Banner, transformed into the Hulk, stood at his full height, letting out a loud roar (which had people covering their ears).

“What is he roaring at?” Lila Barton asked.

The answer to her question became apparent when a creature of some sort appeared on the screen.

A few of the kids let out shouts of surprise and terror. The people nearest the screen recoiled away from the figure. Bruce flinched upon seeing the face of this enemy that he had faced, knowing he was going to have to explain.

“What is that?” Aunt May asked in horror.

“The Abomination,” Bruce said simply. “Think Red Skull, plus gamma radiation.”

Steve shook his head in disbelief. Red Skull was bad enough.

“Hulk,” the Abomination growled, walking towards the other. “Yeah!”

“Dramatic face off!” Scott sang, mostly to ease the tension that now filled the room. Hope’s hand reached towards him, and he flinched, half expecting her to hit him scoldingly on the arm. But she just took his hand and squeezed it.

He started running, and soon Hulk also picked up the pace until the two were racing towards each other, plowing through screaming spectators who for whatever reason weren’t really getting out of the way, just milling about and shrieking in fear.

Nebula shook her head at the fleeing people in disbelief. How could they be so useless? Perhaps it was too much to expect these Terrans to be trained in defense or combat, but surely they had the common sense enough to move away from the imminent fight between two super-powered beings.

The Hulk and the Abomination jumped at the same time, meeting in midair as the Abomination slammed the other to the ground. A neon sign exploded, and the Hulk was thrown into a flaming car, where he tumbled down the street, setting a car alarm off in the process, before sliding to a stop. He got to his feet with some difficulty.

Meanwhile, the Abomination slowly emerged from the wreckage of a flaming car, laughing evilly as all villains do. “Come on!”

A police car caught the Hulk’s eye, and he let out a roar as he punched the vehicle, splitting it in two as the sirens blazed in agony.

“RIP,” Shuri stated. “I really hope there wasn’t anybody in there.”

A few people looked to Bruce to confirm whether Shuri’s statement was true or not. He winced. He himself couldn’t remember if there was somebody inside, but would it matter if there was? He already knew he was a monster.

As Hulk picked up the halves of the smashed car, the Abomination charged. Upon their next meeting, Hulk landed blow after blow on the other. People fled across the screen as the Abomination was pounded into the ground until the pieces of the police car no longer remained and the Hulk landed a barehanded punch to his face.

A lot of the audience was cheering as this progressed, mainly the students from Midtown. A few of the more bloodthirsty viewers enjoyed watching the fight, while others like Maggie, Laura, Christine, and Aunt May winced at every hit that landed, disliking the violence. Bruce himself was included in this group, although the Other Guy felt satisfaction.

“Is that all you got?” snarled the Abomination, not injured in the slightest.

The Hulk raised his fist, ready to punch again, when suddenly he was kicked away and sent flying by the other.

“Oh, come on!” Sam complained. “Why are the enemies always so invincible?”

“Otherwise it wouldn’t be a challenge,” Steve offered, although he agreed with his friend. Sometimes their foes seemed ridiculously overpowered.

The Abomination ran, tearing through a metal gate. He slammed into the wall of a heavily damaged building, searching through a hole in its side. A woman screamed.

Back on Ross in the helicopter as he yelled orders in a gravely voice. “Use that thing to get him some help!”

“Which one?” the pilot asked.

“Help the green one, dammit!” Ross shouted. “Which one do ya think? Cut the other one in half!”

“Well, for all the shit he gives us later, at least he did one thing alright,” Tony comments.

“I mean, he was trying to kill me earlier,” Bruce shrugged, ignoring the looks of bafflement and shock he received at his statement. “To be fair, though, I killed another scientist and put his daughter in a coma.”

“His daughter?” asked Thor.

“Yeah,” Bruce said, nodding towards the screen and referring to the same woman from earlier. “Betty Ross.”

At Ross’s confirmation, the pilot opened rapid fire on the Abomination, who was still clinging to the side of the damaged building.

“Really hope there wasn’t anyone in there, either,” Shuri said.

“Also, I have a feeling that firing at this guy is not going to end well,” Steve added.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Peter declared, because the Star Wars reference was definitely necessary in this situation.

The creature glanced at the source of the bullets, letting out a snarl of “Ross!” before climbing the building, the bullets nothing more than annoying flies to him.

He reached the roof of the building, the helicopter following his progress, continuing to shoot. The Abomination ran.

Meanwhile, the Hulk, on the street, recovered and got to his feet, looking towards the source of the noise above him and seeing the Abomination leap from one building to another. Without hesitation, he began climbing the nearest structure in pursuit.  

Ross shouted something and the firing increased. Suddenly, Hulk emerged on the roof. Betty spotted him and watched him tearfully.

“Okay, I have to ask,” Tony said, looking to his friend. “What exactly is your guys’ relationship?”

“Spill the tea, sis!” Shuri shouted.

“We worked together for a while,” Bruce stated simply.

“Ah yes, because the way she looks at you is the way she looks at all her coworkers,” Tony said drily.

“She really liked me for a while,” Bruce explained further. “But after I left, she started dating someone else, so nothing ever happened.”

The scene resumed before anyone could ask further questions.

The Abomination charged towards the helicopter, which continued to fire in vain. Seeming to sense what the other had in mind, the Hulk gave chase, grabbing onto him just as the Abomination leapt and caught hold of the flying vehicle.

“I knew that wasn’t going to end well,” Steve said.

The two grappled as the helicopter hovered over the city until the Abomination landed a blow to the Hulk that saw the green guy falling once again, but he wasn’t as dazed as he looked as he managed to find a grip on the Abomination’s foot.

The helicopter went careening as both Hulk and Abomination smacked into a tower.

“I gotta put her down!” came a panicked voice. Inside, lights flickered and the occupants held on as they were knocked around.

“This is why helicopter fights are the worst,” Scott noted as the helicopter crashed through a neon side that readWilliams’.

Maggie, Paxton, Jimmy Woo, and several others around him who didn’t know of his fight with Darren Cross looked at him in concern and curiosity, but Scott’s attention stayed fixed on the screen.

Darren rolled his eyes at the idiot’s remark. Helicopter fights were not the worst. In fact, they were pretty epic. They were certainly more epic, he thought, than on the back of a toy train whose engine was Thomas the Train.

Alarms continued to blare inside the careening copter. Betty slid screaming down an aisle. Finally it came in for a rough landing, luckily in the middle of nowhere, the Abomination leaping away from the crashing vehicle.

“How convenient that it landed somewhere that wasn’t around a lot of buildings,” Sam said.

Sparks flew (not romantically) as the helicopter slid to a rough stop on the ground. The Hulk looked up from his lying position, surveying the damage. Inside the helicopter, Betty, miraculously still alive, looked around at the unmoving bodies of the others who surrounded her.

Many viewers winced, seeing so many people who were likely dead or at least terribly injured.

Suddenly one of the people moved. Betty’s whisper of “Dad?” revealed it to be Ross.

“Well, we knew he couldn’t die there,” Tony said.

Betty crawled over to her father as he groaned in pain. “Lemme help you,” she whispered.

Outside, the Hulk got to his feet, and Abomination jumping onto the helicopter to face him, causing both Betty and Ross to fall over at this impact.

The Hulk and the Abomination stood in their fighting stances.

“Dramatic face off number two,” Scott sang. 

And with a growl from the Hulk, the two charged each other to resume the fighting. As the two fought, Betty peered desperately from the door of the still-sparking helicopter, watching as the Hulk was pinned against a wall. He desperately tried to loosen the Abomination’s hold on his throat, but his punches were useless.

“And here I thought Veronica was the only thing that could defeat the Hulk,” Tony said, breaking the silence in the otherwise quiet room. Nobody said anything, although some glared because he had interrupted the scene.

“You don’t deserve this power,” the Abomination growled, pressing the Hulk further into the ground. He struggled, but finally managed to pull the Abomination’s hand away and break free from his grip.

Some people cheered, but grew quiet because the fight was still not over.

Landing a punch to the Abomination, and sending him to the ground, the Hulk turned around just in time to see a flame jump to life, racing rapidly towards the helicopter and immediately engulfing it in flames, Betty, Ross, and everybody else still inside.

“Shit,” Clint swore at this new development, while several others screamed in horror, clinging to the words Bruce had said earlier about Betty dating someone, and also the fact that they knew Ross was still alive.

The Hulk clapped his hands together, sending a powerful stream of air through the flames and somehow clearing the door where Betty crouched of flames and additionally smothering the rest of the fire.

“How did that even work,” Shuri deadpanned.

“Physics,” MJ offered sarcastically while Ms. Warren just sighed, not bothering to correct her student. 

“Yeah, I guess from this perspective it is kind of strange it made sense at the time,” Bruce agreed. “But I’m glad that worked, otherwise they’d be dead now.”

“Wish I could’ve done that when I crashed that plane,” Peter mused, causing MJ, Aunt May, Tony, and Happy to facepalm with how careless he was being.

Ned looked at him with an expression of disbelief. “Dude, are you even trying anymore?”

With the flames miraculously gone, Betty once again stared out the door of the smoking helicopter. The Hulk met her gaze, unaware of the Abomination rising to his feet behind him.

“Look out!” Cassie, Nathaniel, Lila, Monica, and a few of the Midtown students cried in warning, just as Betty onscreen screamed the same thing.

Too late. The Abomination used a stray chain to smack the Hulk and send him flying once more. As he got to his feet again, the other whipped the chain around like a lasso before throwing it again towards the Hulk, who was again unprepared.

As the Hulk struggled to recover from the second blow, the Abomination made a makeshift club from the chain. He spotted Betty and Ross as they attempted to escape from the helicopter.

“I can’t decide if it was better for them to stay inside or to run away,” Coulson commented, trying to figure out what he may have done in the same situation if he didn’t have his gun on him. Although, he supposed, it wouldn't matter, as the Abomination had proved bullets did nothing but annoy him. 

“But also, did everybody else in the helicopter die except for Betty and her dad?” asked Monica in horror.

“Looks like it, baby,” her mother said, wrapping her arms around her.

“General,” the Abomination snarled before sending the chains flying towards the helicopter. Both Betty and Ross managed to avoid the weapon, but the noise caught the fallen Hulk’s attention.

“Any last words?” asked the Abomination as he once again spun the chain above his head, preparing to deliver the killing blow. The Hulk stumbled to his feet.

“Hulk! Smash!” he shouted, slamming his fists into the ground and causing the ground in front of him to crack.

Steve and Natasha couldn’t help but smile, and the other Avengers chuckled at this.

Caught off guard and distracted, the Abomination released the makeshift club and it flew high above him before slamming back down on him.

The Hulk raced towards him, not giving him a chance to recover as he seized the Abomination around the neck. The two grappled again, watched by Betty and Ross who had escaped the downed helicopter by now.

“I feel like they should really be getting out of there now,” Maggie voiced, Paxton nodding.

Finally, the Hulk managed to slip a chain around the Abomination’s neck, letting out a roar.

“Oh god,” Christine said, covering her eyes as she feared that she was about to watch someone die. It was easy to forget that the Abomination was – or at least had been -  human when watching the fight, but he didn’t deserve death.

Bruce, who had been able to remain fairly calm throughout most of the fight sequence, looked down at his hands in disgust. He flinched in surprise when Natasha put a hand on his shoulder.

“This is in the past, Bruce,” she said gently. “And I don’t care what you think. You are not a monster.”

Some of the looks he was getting from the others certainly made him feel like one.

Betty, who had stepped forward, screamed, “STOP!”

“As though that creature would listen,” Ronan sneered, speaking for the first time.

“Knock off, bastard,” Quill shot back at him. “You’re the one that wanted to kill an entire planet.”

Ronan opened his mouth as though he were about to speak, but in a flash, Nebula had a knife at his throat.

“Speak one more word, and it will be your last,” she hissed, causing both Ronan and Gamora to look at her in shock (and happiness in the case of the latter).

And the Hulk did stop. The chain went slack, and the Abomination could breathe again. The police arrived on the scene of the chaos, guns aimed, to see the Hulk holding a chained and defeated Abomination.

Natasha gave Bruce a look, as if to say, see? You didn’t kill him. You’re not a monster.

Throwing the other to the ground, the Hulk placed a foot on him and let out a loud roar. Ross lowered the gun of the nearest officer, staring at the Hulk. Around them, other officers followed suit, and also revealed other onlookers, like a tearful mother and her son, staring.

Betty ran towards him, and the Hulk kicked the Abomination forward, towards Ross and the police officers. She and Hulk gazed at each other as she advanced, whispering, “It’s okay.”

“Sun’s getting real low,” Natasha said under her breath, and Bruce finally managed to shoot her a small smile, still feeling terrible inside.

The Hulk reached a hand out to her face, before pulling away, uttering her name. “Bet. Ty.”

For a brief moment, it seemed like things were over and the conflict had finally ended, but then Hulk was cast in a harsh white light and a new helicopter flew overhead. The Hulk growled before running away, the beam from the helicopter following him as he ran across rooftops and then leapt towards the light and then –

The screen cut to black. The viewers waited in anticipation, hoping to see what happened next, but after a solid minute of silence, they turned away from the dark screen, realizing nothing more would show for a bit, and began to discuss what they had seen.

A few people looked towards Bruce with a new understanding of him. Despite the horror of the last scene, most found them liking him more than they had. Many of them had moments they weren’t proud of. The students from Midtown loudly proclaimed their adoration for Bruce and his work, Mrs. Warren and Mr. Harrington finally worked up the courage to ask the brilliant scientist for his signature (leading to most of the other students begging for one as well) and once that died down, Natasha, Steve, and Tony gave their friend a comforting hug, Steve and Tony understanding how it felt to have parts of your life play in front of everyone while Natasha dreading her own moment in the spotlight.

And as Bruce listened to those around him talk about everything they had just witnessed, hearing hardly anything negative about himself or the Other Guy, he felt surprisingly okay. He and Hulk definitely had a lot to work through together, and he would probably always feel like a monster to some degree, but at that moment, he felt himself truly relaxing.

Just in time for new words to appear on the screen:

Awesome! Next up, we will be watching a few more scenes about…