With Loki's ability to sense magic, the search for the sceptre Thanos had 'gifted' him went much smoother than their previous attempts.
Ronan hated to admit most of these attempts involved charging into warehouses or safe houses of HYDRA and killing everyone there. He was all for punching Nazi's, but the fact that every single attempt was fruitless was slightly embarrassing.
Personally, Ronan hadn't killed anyone, but that was mostly because he had a god with slightly murderous tendencies and an overprotective rage monster covering him at all times, and that wasn't including the other Avengers and whichever of Marie's friends had been involved at the time. He hadn't gotten his hands dirty, and neither had the civilians who, since they had fought in New York, insisted they were qualified for the job of tracking down a magical, mind controlling sceptre.
Their current location was a small country called Sokovia, which had been a country at war only a few years back. Just looking at it made Ronan feel bad for the team coming in to see if they held the sceptre, but it was their best lead at the moment and Loki swore on his magic that it held a strong signature of the power of the sceptre.
The current stronghold that Tony was trying, and failing, to get through was an old looking multi roomed building situated on high ground. It was one of the most obvious hideouts that Ronan had seen during their search and he was honestly slightly unimpressed.
“They’ve gotten worse at hiding.” Eli’s chirpy voice sounded over the comms, the one who had insisted on coming with them and hoisting off babysitting his niece to his brother, Aedan. “Be going radio silent for a bit - I’m gonna smash a bunker.”
“Have fun.” Ronan could hear Clint’s twitching lips in his voice, and he rolled his eyes, ducking to avoid a blast from a HYDRA agent, watching as Loki turned the man into an ice sculpture.
“Wasn’t that slightly dramatic?”
“Shouldn’t you be paying attention to the field?” Loki countered and, ok, he had a point. “Is that force field down yet?”
“Not yet.” Tony’s voice came through. "I'm working on it, Rock of Ages."
"Work on it quicker." Loki snapped and Ronan thought he heard Clint snicker over the comm. "Before Ronan gets himself killed."
"If you taught me your magic stuff I wouldn't get killed." Ronan countered, before being pushed aside by Loki to avoid being blasted by a HYDRA weapon, and the man was banished with a wave of Loki's hand. "Case in point."
"It's Seidr. Stay. Put." Loki patted Ronan on the shoulder and he ran off to assist his brother who had been swarmed by a small group of agents.
"Have you met Ronan?" Natasha's voice came over the comm, along with the sound of a man screaming. "He refuses to follow any sound advice."
"My ideas work." Ronan stated, getting to his feet. "I'm gonna go punch some Nazi's."
"Love you too!" Ronan blatantly ignored Loki's growl and reached into his pocket, pulling out a gadget Tony had gifted him.
It was a small, spherical object, that let out a small burst of electricity when activated and thrown. Not enough to kill, but enough to severely harm. It was also less obvious than the dagger still strapped to his hip - just in case the Hulk or Loki didn't reach him in time to save him from potential death. Honestly, he could look after himself. Contrary to popular belief, he wasn't completely useless when it came to something other than being their lucky charm.
He pressed the tiny button on the side and threw it into a crowd of agents, and let out a triumphant crow when they went down, twitching slightly.
“We’ve got a mutant on the field!” Steve’s voice sounded over the comms and, before Ronan could even comprehend that insinuation, was knocked off his feet and into a tree, only just managing to catch a flash of blue and a laugh.
“Super speed.” He managed. “Jesus.”
“I got it!” Eli had obviously transformed back into a human, and Ronan heard a screech that sounded like an eagle before a blur of feathers flew past him.
“No. There was a girl - telekinetic.” Steve replied and Ronan heard Clint curse.
“Just what we need.”
“I would be offended, but I am assuming it's because they're not on our side.” Ronan got to his feet, hissing. “Ah shit. That’s going to bruise.”
“What’s going to bruise?”
“Knocked me into a tree.” Ronan managed. He heard Tony snicker through the coms.
“I’m sure you’re used to bruises by now, kid, considering your boyfriend.”
“Oh, fuck you.”
“Don’t think Loki would approve of that.” The genius replied cheerily, and Ronan could feel Loki being torn between outrage and amusement.
“Stay put, I’ll cover you.” Clint said, instead of Loki. “Reindeer Games is covering his brother.”
“That’s my name!” Tony said in protest and Ronan groaned. Loudly.
At least this would be the last of these missions.
Eli had never thought he’d get to hang out with superheroes, never mind joining them on missions.
He’d been born as the middle kid, overlooked once Aedan and Elissa had come along, and hadn’t had the luxury of being an only child as Emilia had. He loved his family, he really did, but he felt slightly in the shadows compared to his siblings. Especially since he wasn’t the only one who had abilities that labelled him as a freak. Being with the Avengers was different, because everyone in the group was definitely a freak, but they were revered and celebrated for it. It was hard not to be bitter over that.
Still, Marie had said they’d help, and Eli found it hard to say no to Marie, even when her power wasn’t in use - she’d tilt her head and stare at him pleadingly and he was sure she’d picked up that trick from his niece. He had a difficult time saying no to Theo, too.
It didn’t take surprisingly long to catch up with the speedster - the man had slowed down, possibly unused to his power, and his stride had slowed down when he noticed no person was following him, a cocksure smirk on his face.
He wasn’t expecting an eagle, which Eli was expecting, so the yelp the man let out when he was tackled to the ground by a rapidly growing bird of prey was immensely satisfying.
“Got you, pretty boy.” Eli was straddling the speedster’s waist, no clothes due to his transformation (an issue he definitely needed to work on), and in any other situation he wouldn't exactly be opposed to it. The boy was ridiculously attractive, blue eyes and premature silver hair. Bit of stubble, too, and Eli should not wonder how it would feel between his legs. Marie was right, he needed to get laid. The pretty boy smirked back.
“Not too bad yourself, printessa.”
“Not a princess, or whatever delusions you have.” Eli leaned over him, noting the way the smirk flickered away. “Now, care to tell me why you're working with Hydra?”
The way the man stiffened gave Eli a sudden doubt about their intentions.
“I’m not with Hydra.”
“Considering the fact you're against us -"
“I’m Jewish. Working with a Nazi organisation is not exactly helpful to our cause.” The man stuck his chin out, defiant. “They said they were SHIELD. Offering us a way to protect our country.”
“They lied.” Eli stated, before sitting up and speaking. “They're not with Hydra, do not engage unless necessary. I repeat, they are not with Hydra.”
“Considering the fact they were attacking us -”
“Washington, Natasha. Like Washington.” Eli heard her curse. “Exactly.”
“Is this ‘they’ including the girl?” Steve asked and Eli nodded, before realising it was over comms.
“Yes, this includes the girl.” Eli didn’t remove himself from where he was sat on the boy - he wasn’t too sure if he completely trusted him to not speed off if he moved, and it wasn’t as though he desperately had to move. He raised an eyebrow when the boy continued to stare at him. “What?”
“You...are going to let us go?”
“Uh, yeah. I mean, you were tricked. I’m sure Stark -" Eli let out a hiss, breath knocked out of him as the boy suddenly jolted, tucking his knees up and pushing, sending Eli flying until he hit a tree. He felt something in his arm move and a sudden flash of pain raced up his arm. “Dude!”
“You're with Stark.” He had gotten to his feet and at least he looked slightly apologetic, although his eyes were more full of worry and fear and...and anger. “I can't- my sister -" And he was gone and Eli swore loudly.
“Sorry, Cap, the guy got away. I think I may have fractured my arm or something.” He managed to pull himself up, keeping his arm close to his body. “We’re nearly done, right? Please say we’re nearly done.” There was the sound of someone letting out a yell of pain and Ronan swore violently down the com.
“Clint’s been hit!” He stated. “Can someone take out that bu - never mind. Thanks, Big Guy!” There was the sound of an approving roar from the Hulk and Eli could imagine Ronan giving the rage monster a double thumbs up. “Everyone else?”
“I got Strucker.” Steve said, and he was immediately followed by Tony.
“Yeah, I got...something bigger.” The way his voice shook slightly set off alarm bells in Eli’s head. “Might be time to pack up. I got the -” His voice trailed off, and Ronan’s voice came over the com, worried.
“Tones?” The breathing from Tony was audible, heavy and quick. “Tony, it’s alright, can you hear me?”
“I got you, Ro.” Tony’s voice still shook, but it seemed like he was making an effort to keep it steady. “Calm down the big guy, will you? I’ve got the sceptre.”
Ronan was...concerned had to be the right word. His eyes kept flickering to the sceptre, and back to Loki who hadn’t glanced at the thing since Tony had brought it in.
Speaking of Tony, Ronan wanted to know what had nearly brought on a panic attack. He hadn’t spoken about what he’d seen inside the base, and Ronan could only assume the sceptre had brought back New York memories. Thoughts no one wanted to dwell on.
Clint and Eli had been relegated to what Ronan had dubbed the injuries bench, Clint clutching at the gauze Natasha had used to stop him from bleeding out over the quinjet, Eli’s arm in a sling. He looked faintly ill, but then again he’d looked faintly ill on the way to Sokovia - not good with planes, which was funny considering Eli could fly. At least he was wearing clothes again.
Loki didn’t appear to be in the mood for talking, but Ronan tapped his shoulder and tilted his head towards Bruce. Loki’s eyes flickered to the scientist, who had headphones on and was listening to something, and he nodded before pressing his lips to the top of Ronan’s head. Usually Loki was less affectionate around the team, but Ronan got it - Loki was private in general, but the sceptre had shaken him up. It was a reminder of the less than stellar things he’d done while on Earth.
Ronan took a seat opposite Bruce and next to Natasha, who looked like she was dozing off against the wall. Her phone was at risk of falling to the floor, and Ronan nudged her. She startled, which was odd to see her do.
“Make sure you don’t drop your phone.” He murmured, and Natasha’s grip on her mobile tightened minutely, before she stowed it back in the pocket of her jacket - black, and leather, much like her suit. “Tired?”
“Today’s been...long.” Was all she said. “Wake me up when we’re back?”
“Of course.” Ronan watched as She curled up on the bench, head resting against the wall as she drifted off.
“She looks too young like that.” Bruce’s quiet voice startled Ronan, and the scientist managed a small, amused grin when Ronan jumped. “Sorry.”
“Should’ve been paying attention.” Ronan brushed off the apology. “You alright? I know you weren’t expecting to take part in...that.”
“I’m fine.” Bruce’s lips twitched up. “The Hulk is...calmer, which is a word I never thought I’d use. I can’t really protest him trashing what he did.”
“Punching Nazi’s is always a good cause.” Ronan agreed, and he heard a sleepy laugh from Natasha. “Don’t you dare disagree, Romanoff.”
“Wasn’t going to.” She kept her eyes closed, lips quirking up. “Just wasn’t expecting those words from you. It sounds like something Marie would say.”
“Which is why we’re friends.” Ronan nodded once and Bruce grinned. “Go to sleep.”
“You’re such a mom.” Natasha teased, voice quiet, and then she didn’t say anything else, breath evening out.
“You are such a mom.” Bruce agreed, laughing at Ronan’s eye roll. “It’s not a bad thing. It’s just because you’re, as Tony puts it, ‘a kid’.”
“I’m not a kid.” Ronan huffed. “I’m just the youngest here.”
“Hence why it’s weird that you worry so much over everyone.” Bruce countered. “It’s nice, but you don’t have to.”
“Someone has to. You all have issues - it might as well be me who makes sure you remember the small things, like regular meals.” Ronan nudged Bruce’s foot with his own. “And yes, that was a criticism, Doctor Banner.”
“Ouch, I’m hurt.” Bruce’s voice was full of humour though. “Don’t worry - I’ll eat soon. We’re almost home.”
Ronan had never referred to the Tower as home before.
It wasn’t the worst thing to call it, he supposed.