Chapter 1: Introduction
It all started with a phone call.
Well, not really. I guess you could say it started when America was created in a universe that already contained Russia and possibly Japan. As far as history goes, that wasn't exactly Britain's best move; it invited a whole lot of hostility that has never left the American psyche. However, even in the 21st century, it wasn't exactly like they could go back and fix it. Nick Fury lamented this as he sat at his desk in an office, one of his many offices in America.
In this particular instance, it was an office in a relatively quiet location. The desk was made out of rich, dark wood, and there were only two rather than the usual six or seven weapons hidden carefully out of sight around the room.
On top of these few details, the phone was ringing.
Nick put down his coffee, leant forward and picked it up.
'Public director Nick Fury speaking.'
'The Avengers Initiative,' said a cool, confident voice coming out of the phone, 'Interesting idea, isn't it?'
Had Nick been the panicking kind, he'd almost certainly have fallen out of his chair at this point. In fact, the telephone would likely be lodged in the door to his office that sat innocuously a couple of metres in front of his desk. As it was, he'd been chosen to be the public director of SHIELD for a reason, and he wasn't about to be intimidated by a smarmy git on the telephone. Actually, why did he find the bloke so smarmy?
'Ah, Americans,' said the voice, 'so unnecessarily dramatic with your names and corporations.'
That was it. The blasted voice was British. British, of all things.
'Sir, I'm going to have to ask who you are.'
'Oh, never mind me,' said the voice, 'I was just wondering why the population of the world is so clearly misrepresented in your organisation, when the issue it is facing is quite clearly on a much more global scale.'
What the hell was this freak talking about, thought Nick as he said 'Sir, I'll ask one more time, who are you?'
The voice sighed. 'I can see we aren't going to be able to do this over the phone. Go outside, Nick Fury, there's a car waiting for you.'
The receiver clicked, and Nick was left with one of the oddest decisions he'd had to make. For him especially, that was really saying something. If there really was a car outside (and much as he loathed admitting it, this British guy really seemed confident that there was one), he'd possibly leave and risk having his organisation brought down with the information this man clearly thought he possessed. The alternative, of course, was to get into the car of a threatening stranger and hope he wasn't blown up or shot.
He carefully got up, collected one of the two hidden weapons (a rather small gun; he didn't want to appear too violent) and walked out of his office. Two flights of stairs and a revolving glass door later, he was outside the building and face-to-face with a sleek black limousine, a smartly-dressed woman holding the door open for him.
'This way, Mr Fury,' she said, smiling a decidedly fake smile at him.
She looked as though she could be taken down by a poke in the ribs with a golf club. Besides, she was deeply immersed in her Blackberry.
Not a threat, Nick decided, as he got in the car.
The door was closed behind him and the woman got in the seat next to him. The car started, and they drove in mostly awkward and slightly tense silence for a long while. Looking out of the window wasn't an option; the tinting on this car had to be illegally dark, and it was impossible to see a thing out of them.
When it finally stopped, Nick didn't wait for the woman (who had introduced herself under the name of Anthea, which was clearly a pseudonym) to get out. He opened the door and strode purposefully out… into the abandoned warehouse.
Not to be shaken easily by the odd location, Nick walked right up to the solitary figure that he presumed he was meeting. The figure was leaning lightly against a black umbrella. As Nick approached, he could tell that the man was well-dressed, in his late thirties, and was extremely confident of his success in his endeavours.
Nick decided to prove him wrong.
When he was roughly two metres away from the man, he halted and glared menacingly out of his one good eye.
'Please, sit,' said the man, indicating a solitary chair sitting innocently a couple of feet to his right. By his voice, he was most certainly the man that had called him earlier.
The man pulled a small notebook out of his inner jacket pocket and began talking. 'Shrapnel to the eye, hence the eye patch. That must have been painful. Recruited to SHIELD as public director, you noticed that HYDRA had infiltrated your company and replaced many of the staff with… Deltites, you called them. After removing this threat, you started SHIELD anew, hoping it could possibly do some good under your permanent control. You saved yourself from murder by replacing yourself with a decoy android before determining that it was time to enlist a group of… heroes… to protect the earth if necessary. Mr Fury, your plans have been acceptable up until this point, so what on earth made you decide to ignore most of the planet when planning your latest venture?' He closed his notebook and put it away, staring at Nick in a way that simultaneously made him want to hide and fight.
Instead, he was staring at the man with a look of absolute horror. There was no way those details were known to the general public, the government, or in fact the CIA or any secret association other than his own. And if Nick Fury knew one thing, it was that there weren't any bloody British people in SHIELD.
'How the hell did you find all that out?' he asked, thankfully sounding angry instead of the rather more accurate dumbfounded.
The man smiled.
'Nicholas Joseph Fury, my name is Mycroft Holmes, and for the good of the Earth, we need to talk.'
Chapter 2: Coffee at Starbucks/The Villains Unite
How they'd ended up having coffee at Starbucks in the middle of Salt Lake City, Utah was completely beyond Nick.
'So, what I'm essentially suggesting, is that you recruit a few people of my own choosing to add to those you have already chosen.'
Mycroft leant back in his chair and sipped at the tea that Starbucks sure as hell wasn't selling. Nick assumed that somehow, Anthea had managed to make some up in the back of that black car. Nick gulped at his decidedly foul coffee.
'And no more words about the competence of my already planned team is going to convince you any further that we don't actually need your people?'
'You're waiting for Loki, which is all well and good,' Nick blanched as Mycroft revealed yet another detail that he most certainly was NOT supposed to know, 'But he's not all you have to watch out for. See, even Loki occasionally needs help, or wants help. And I know who he's gone after.'
Nick wanted to hit Mycroft. It was bad enough him knowing as much as he did. It was worse when he knew more.
'Who, then, genius?'
Though he thought about it, Nick couldn't remember a single mention of the name.
'Haven't heard of him.'
Mycroft muttered something along the lines of 'Americans' before handing over a file labelled "Moriarty." Upon opening it, Nick saw the image of a man no one could call sane on first glance, but he imagined everyone would have the same trouble saying what exactly it was about him that made him not so.
'So, this Moriarty teamed up with an immortal being from another realm?' asked Nick sarcastically.
'Oh no, Mr Fury,' said Mycroft, 'I think Loki teamed up with him.'
As a matter of fact, Mycroft was right in his assertion. You'd have expected Moriarty would leap at the chance to work with someone as truly cunning and cruel as Loki, god of mischief, but there was one tiny little problem.
He'd shot himself right through the skull on the roof of St Bart's two years earlier.
Loki had spent some time observing Earth, and he had concluded one thing; as far as mischief goes, Moriarty was the right one for the job of his Earth-based associate. And why on Earth wouldn't someone like Moriarty want to join the God of Mischief in an endeavour that would gain them the world for themselves?
Moriarty's being dead, as far as Loki was concerned, was a minor inconvenience. In comparison to the heaven and hell of his own realm, the Earth-bound hell was a dog kennel with a bit of cardboard awkwardly covering up the entrance.
So, all in all, Loki literally went through hell to get Moriarty on his side.
Crowley wasn't considering any of this as he sat at the entrance to hell, going through his paperwork. Paperwork. The king of hell should not be expected to suffer through the indignity of records, receipts, and heaven forbid, bills.
Heaven forbid. Crowley chuckled at his own private joke.
He was calmly writing out the names of the last, devious souls to have entered his world when the door opened, and where it had been stood a tall, cloaked figure with the most ridiculous helmet Crowley had ever laid eyes on. In fact, as said figure entered Crowley's office (he supposed you'd call it an office, anyway), he banged the helmet's horns into the door frame.
'Classy,' said Crowley, an eyebrow raised.
'You did not grow up in a realm where the door frames were not so pitifully small,' said Crowley's horn-helmeted guest, 'I'm looking for the soul of James Moriarty.'
Crowley looked with surprise down at his list. Moriarty was, in fact, on the list of paper he'd just completed.
You could say Crowley was a bit behind on his paperwork.
'Have him right here,' said Crowley, 'doesn't mean I'm going to give him to you though.'
'I know not of the rules of your realm,' said his guest, 'I only know from observation that you are the one to talk to when getting a soul out of hell. I imagine there is some sort of deal or trade, and believe me, I am quite capable of any such deal.'
Crowley mentally upped the price for Moriarty's soul. His soul in particular was worth rather a lot to bring back, and this man seemed willing to pay.
'What could you pay?'
'A thousand souls from Jotunheim.'
Crowley decided to push it.
'Not sure,' he said, his fingers dancing across the paper on which Moriarty's name was located, 'Precious soul, that one. Could cause a lot of havoc back on Earth. You'd need something godly to back that up, especially if he stays out of hell.'
His guest paused, and after a short amount of contemplation, said 'Upon my victory, and then only, I could give you the soul of my brother.'
'That's not going to cut it.'
'My brother is Thor, son of Odin.'
'Crowley,' said the demon, sticking his right hand out and grinning like a snake.
'Loki,' said the god, shaking his hand and wiping it subtly on his trousers. Crowley suddenly became extremely glad that Loki was trading with souls other than his own; Loki seemed a tad too terrifying for even him to want to kiss.
'God of mischief?'
'In Midgard, I suppose I am.'
I have no idea what that even means, thought Crowley as he asked 'You must be up to something special then.'
'I would say so.'
'A few deaths involved, I'd imagine.'
'Rather more than for the usual warfare.'
'Mind if I join in?'
Loki turned around in surprise. 'You? And what have you to offer me, other than the souls of millions of unintelligent human deemed unfit for the majority of humanity, aside from the one soul I've already bargained for?'
Crowley's grin didn't shift. 'Loki, I need souls, the more the better. My power isn't anywhere near as strong as I'd like. In turn, of course, I could give you the use of an army.'
'I have an army.'
'Well, then you'd have two armies.'
Loki paused in thought again.
'Every demon in hell.'
'Done,' said Loki, 'You shall be contacted when my plans are initiated.'
'I'll know when you're here.'
'I'll have Mr Moriarty now, if you wouldn't mind.'
It was a rather strange place, hell, thought Moriarty. Clearly he was in hell, though the place was cleverly engineered to look as though it could be purgatory; he had been waiting in line for two years, and was entirely sure that this particular queue wasn't going anywhere.
He had to admire the technique of whoever ran this place. He had never been so bored in his entire existence.
So it came as rather a surprise to Moriarty when an average-looking man with a snake-like grin and a black suit walked up to him and tapped him on the shoulder.
'Someone loves you,' said the black-suited man, before pulling Moriarty out of the queue and dragging him towards a well-lit room off to the side.
'Thank you, Crowley,' said another voice as Moriarty was pushed into the room. He gingerly fixed his suit.
'Good afternoon, Moriarty,' continued the man, 'My name is Loki, I come from Asgard, and I wish to recruit you to my own personal mission to take over the nine realms of Yggdrasill.'
Moriarty refused to freeze up after he'd only been let out of hell.
'Well, I'd hate to leave here with debts,' he said, smiling grimly, 'show me around, then.'
Loki put his hand out to Moriarty's shoulder and the ground dropped out from under him.
They had only been in Jotunheim five minutes before Loki was starting to think this was a bad idea.
He had landed in the realm of the frost giants, and slimily talked his way not only out of trouble, but right onto the throne of Jotunheim, claiming (correctly, mind you) to be the true heir to said throne, and saying that he himself had vanquished the usurper. He promised to rebuild their realm and help them wage war against Asgard.
Loki knew how good he was at spinning stories out of thin air and making even the most stubborn of people believe his tales, but even he couldn't believe the idiots bought that. His real intention, of course, was to use them to conquer each of the other eight realms, beginning with possibly the most simple to defeat; Midgard.
Moriarty came in at about the point that Loki realised, while he could quite probably defeat the Earth in terms of numbers, there were a never-ending series of infernal machines on planet Earth that he had little to no hope of understanding. He needed an expert; what's more, he needed an expert he could trust to be invested in his mission. This had to be someone looking for power, for mischief, and beyond all things, for fun.
Moriarty was waiting to be convinced of all this.
And right now, to his everlasting annoyance, apparently Loki wasn't being particularly convincing.
Loki wasn't sure how it had happened, but Moriarty had ended up seated casually on the throne he'd managed to build for himself in the realm of the Frost Giants, his right leg slung over the armrest. The Frost Giants Loki used as guards had been ordered out of the room upon Moriarty's arrival. Though Loki was still holding his sceptre, Moriarty seemed to command all the power in his room. As far as Loki was concerned, this simply wasn't on.
'I can offer you as much of the earth as you'd like upon our victory, at which point…'
'But it's not a particularly inspiring offer, is it?'
Loki blanched, recollected himself and glared at Moriarty. This was all done without his notice; Loki had always been able to master his emotions.
'The extent of your reward is limited only by your imagination.'
'Oh, I don't think so.'
Loki personally felt as though he was bursting with anger. His composure was perfectly maintained, however, as Moriarty focused on him and tried to gauge his emotions. Loki smiled in as measured a way as he could.
'You may not have noticed, Mr Moriarty, but I haven't even spoken of a single detail of one of my many plans, only of the general idea.'
'Boring,' said Moriarty, 'Firstly, it's clear you want to go there, guns blazing, and watch as your brother tries in vain to fight it off. Believe me, it's not going to work. And in all of this, what you need me for is to be your own personal Jim from I.T, Midgard edition? No. That won't do.'
Loki struggled to keep his composure as Moriarty grinned wickedly.
'I'm just saying, you could use something with a bit more finesse.'
Loki smiled again, remembering that though this mortal man may be clever, he is still mortal, and his abilities in general warfare far outstripped those of Mr Moriarty.
'Well then, tell me. The world at your fingertips, being in control, vanquishing those you hate most; who would you want to destroy?'
Moriarty grinned. 'Sherlock Holmes.'
'The man who insists that he's on the side of the angels,' said Moriarty almost dreamily, and for a second Loki suspected him of being in love with the man, 'my equal in all respects. Aside from motivation of course. The man is quite content in his boredom, with his pathetic little contacts at Scotland Yard and his army doctor friend.'
Loki, from what little he'd seen of Moriarty, came up with his own version of what Sherlock Holmes was like.
'Would you like to destroy him with something he cannot and will never understand or believe?'
Moriarty's grin grew wider.
'I'd like nothing better.'
This could work, thought Loki. It is entirely possible that I will have murdered him myself before Midgard is won, but this could somehow work.
Chapter 3: The Global Avengers Call
At Starbucks, Mycroft and Nick were finishing up their discussion of who to include in this extended version of Nick's Avengers team. Their drinks were nearly finished, and their plans were almost entirely in place.
'It's not very global though, is it?'
'Pardon?' asked Mycroft, putting down his now empty teacup (teacup being a generous word for the foam carton in which Mycroft's drink had been) onto the table.
'Well, you're asking to recruit your brother and a man with extra-terrestrial background from Wales. Not exactly global.'
'I admit that while the range isn't as far as I'd like,' said Mycroft, his grimace barely noticeable, though Nick fancied he could spot it, 'through including Britain, and by extension Europe in your plans, your team is more likely to take on a global perspective.'
'They knew the scope of things before you chose to intervene.'
'I'm sure Stark would have, but Banner? Barton? Likely not. As far as Thor is concerned, he is unlikely to know anything of this Earth other than the tiny space of the United States he happened to visit.'
'I hate to admit this, but you're probably right. I'm thinking of recruiting a couple of other guys with more world knowledge myself.'
Mycroft smiled, standing up and gesturing for Nick to walk out of the coffee shop in front of him.
'Assemble the Avengers, Mr Fury. You would have within a couple of days regardless; start now. I'll be calling my own people shortly.'
'Alright, Mr Holmes.'
The two men went their separate ways, Mycroft sliding into the black car they'd arrived in, Nick walking in the general direction of his office, on the phone to an assistant who could pick him up.
As far as starting with phone calls goes, that's how it panned out for those being recruited to the Avengers Initiative. Of course, there were those who knew what was happening; Steve Rogers had been a minor employee at SHIELD for some time, waiting for the call, not knowing where to go in the world so foreign to him. Tony Stark had been personally assessed by Natasha Romanoff, who worked for SHIELD as well as Clint Barton. Bruce Banner wasn't even aware of the company's existence and Thor didn't even know any of the workings of the Coca Cola Company, let alone SHIELD. Dean and Sam Winchester were under the distinct impression that no real organisation had tried to track them. Sherlock and John expected the occasional call from Mycroft, but they would never have guessed that it pertained to the supernatural. Torchwood received the occasional call, but rarely directly to Cardiff.
And so began the weirdest global recruitment session the world has ever seen.
It started with Natasha. She picked up the phone as soon as she saw Nick Fury's name on the screen and answered with just 'Time for the Avengers Initiative?'
'Yes, but it's a bit bigger than we expected.'
Natasha raised an eyebrow.
'They're getting a few guys in from England.'
Natasha let out a breath. 'Bigger villains?'
'Where's the meeting?'
'Washington, conference centre. We'll send you the details later. Just one more thing, Natasha.'
'Could you try and convince Banner? We need all the help we can get.'
'Sir, I don't know if that's going to be possible.'
'Bring him in, Natasha. My resources are at your disposal.'
Soon after, Nick called Tony. He couldn't really leave the guy without knowing he'd finally been accepted as a non-consultant Avenger.
'Hallo,' came the answer, 'I'm kind of busy at the moment, Nick, so if you could hurry it up it'd be…'
'The Avengers want you, Tony.'
A pause on Tony's end of the line. Internally, he was doing wild backflips in his most outlandish suit and grinning like a child with the world's biggest lollipop. Outwardly, he sarcastically raised an eyebrow and opened his occasionally unintelligent mouth.
'So, you've decided you need my help after all, huh?'
'Tony, we don't need to get into the details…'
'Figured you couldn't hack it without Iron Man there to back you up? I thought I was volatile, and didn't work well with others?'
'Tony, one more word and you'll be withdrawn from the program. Again.'
Tony shut his mouth for a few seconds.
'Where, when and what idiots am I dealing with?'
Mycroft had more contacts than anyone would expect, even after being introduced to him as the British Government. Many of his contacts were strictly non-government organisations.
Torchwood, for instance, had nothing to do with anyone on Earth, really. That didn't stop him from tracking their progress after they'd fought off alien after alien, and generally kept the world safer than it would be without the organisation. They also made Mycroft's job a lot easier by doing tremendous work covering the footsteps of the elusive Doctor, the man who had (according to his intelligence force) put Harriet Jones herself out of power with the use of six words.
Mycroft did not hold out any hope whatsoever that he would be able to contact the Doctor. Torchwood, however, was well within his reach.
He picked up his phone and dialled the number of the Cardiff branch of the organisation.
'Torchwood Three,' said an unmistakable female Welsh voice.
'Hello, Gwen,' said Mycroft, trying not to sound intimidating for once. After all, he was asking a favour, not bribing or blackmailing as was more usual for his position. 'My name is Mycroft Holmes, and I'm looking to enlist someone from your department.'
Mycroft could almost hear her shock emanating through the line.
'We're not a department.'
'As I recall, you answered this very phone call as Torchwood "Three".'
'Look, mister, who are you working for?'
'I'm not working for anyone,' answered Mycroft patiently, 'I'm looking to enlist someone on a very specific global mission. I'm willing to impart all the details… as soon as I'm able to speak with him directly.'
'Oh, dear god, you're not after Jack are you?'
'Why, yes. Does he happen to be nearby?'
'You're not one of them, are you?'
'One of who?'
'Them. His… friends.'
'I assure you, I've never spoken to him before.'
'That's not what I'm worried about.'
Her insinuation dawned on Mycroft as he remembered some of the paperwork on Jack and he blushed a little. He continued quickly. 'I have never even seen the man. Is he nearby?'
'Fraid not, he's on one of our missions.'
'Ah. And whereabouts would that be?'
'I can assure you I have the credentials to pass through your classification.'
'I really, really doubt it.'
'Look, your number'll be saved to the phone. You're clearly important, or at least good at hacking. I'll get him to give you a call when he gets back.'
'When might that be?'
'Couple of weeks, probably.'
'I rather need him this weekend.'
'You'll have to wait.'
The phone went dead.
Well, thought Mycroft, perhaps not Torchwood after all.
With a sigh, he picked up the phone and dialled the number of his younger brother.
Natasha signalled to the soldiers Nick had allowed her to lead and directed them around Bruce Banner's temporary hut. Convincing Banner to join the Avengers Initiative? Difficult. Convincing him that he'd be better off joining the Avengers than being shot at? A lot easier.
She kicked down the door to his hut and walked straight on in. The soldiers remained outside, not needing to come into the hut with her for this.
'Doctor, we need you to come in.'
Banner turned to look at Natasha, fully decked out in her Black Widow gear.
'What if I… say no?'
Natasha signalled and the soldiers raised and prepared their guns.
'I'll persuade you.'
'Steve, it's Nick Fury.'
Steve sat up straight in his chair, his heart beating a little faster.
'Is it time to come in?'
'Indeed it is.'
Steve quietly punched his fist into the air, grinning inanely.
'The conference is in Washington DC this Saturday. I hope you'll be able to join us.'
'You bet I will, Nick,' said Steve, eyeing his long-since-unworn costume in the glass case in his room, 'you bet I will.'
The last thing Dean Winchester was expecting on a crisp Tuesday morning in Alabama was a phone call, least of all to the cell phone he used solely for Cas, Bobby and his own brother.
He eyed it suspiciously, the screen declaring it to be an unknown number, before he gingerly picked it up and answered.
'Hey dude, I think you've got the wrong number.'
'Oh, I don't think so, Dean.'
Had it been any car other than the Impala, parked on a bridge over a river, beside him, Dean would've punched a hole straight through the window.
Frigging angels, thought Dean as he asked 'How do you know my name?'
'The Avengers have been keeping tabs on you for a while, Dean, you and your brother. We'd like to recruit you for a mission.'
'What kind of pathetic heaven and hell crap is this Avengers thing then?'
The voice paused for a few moments.
'I have no idea what you're talking about. Look, my name's Nick Fury, I'm in charge… well, mostly… of the Avengers Initiative, and we're looking for recruits. I admit they considered you may be a slight liability, what with the angel being mostly unknown and…'
Dean interrupted him right there.
'I'm no one's liability,' said Dean, 'Give me the info. Now.'
'Washington DC, a conference on Saturday. Nothing to do with this… heaven and hell crap. We're trying to protect ourselves against an enemy greater than any you've faced before.'
Dean couldn't help himself. 'What, greater than the devil himself?'
'Would you believe me if I said yes, certainly?'
After weighing up the options, Dean uttered a terse affirmative grunt into the phone.
'If you want to leave at any time, you're welcome to,' said Nick.
'I think I can handle it,' said Dean, before hanging up. Frigging governments.
Sam tapped Dean on the shoulder and he nearly threw the phone into the river in shock.
'Calm down, Dean, it's just me.'
'Sam, don't do that, alright?'
'Who was the call from?'
'Some douche called Nick Fury asking for our help.'
'Well, are we helping him?'
Dean nodded. 'Ready for a trip to Washington DC, Sammy?'
Sherlock snatched at his phone as it rang and glanced at the screen. He tossed it back on the coffee table and flounced his way back onto the couch as soon as he saw the name "Mycroft" lighting up the screen.
'Who was that, then?' asked John, though he already knew.
'It was Mycroft, wasn't it?'
'I can't talk to him, I'm busy.'
John suppressed his long-time urge of throwing his mug of tea into the yellow smiley face on the wall.
'Sherlock, you've done nothing but sit on that couch all day!'
'I'm busy. Don't make me say it again, I hate repeating myself.'
Right on cue, John's phone went off and he pulled it out of his pocket, saying 'If this is important, you're helping him.'
Sherlock grunted aimlessly as John answered the phone.
'Ah, John,' said Mycroft, 'pleasure to get through to at least one of you. I was rather afraid Sherlock wouldn't answer.'
'Says he's busy.'
'Oh, even he's not going to be busy when he hears what this one is.'
'Is it a case?'
'No. It's an international mission guarding the earth against two known criminals and a third unknown.'
John sat up. Sherlock glanced over.
'I thought you knew everything about… well, everyone.'
'We have reason to believe he's not human.'
John rolled his eyes. 'Come on, Mycroft, you can't pull this with me. No such thing.'
'I'd say there is such thing. Especially seeing as one of the known criminals is a registered demigod.'
'You can't be serious.'
'I am deadly serious, and all you'd need to do to be sure is hand the phone over to my dear brother. No doubt he's rather interested in talking all of a sudden.'
John looked up and Sherlock was indeed sitting on the edge of the sofa, leaning over, about to snatch the phone from John's hand. He passed it over wordlessly.
'What is it?' Sherlock snapped. He could already tell that Mycroft was being deadly serious, and if John didn't believe it this must be outrageously interesting.
'An international mission, Sherlock.'
'And these three criminals?'
'If you were able to hear that much, you may want to tell John to turn the volume on his phone down,' said Mycroft, 'One, as I mentioned to John, is an unknown. One is a demigod, commonly known both on Earth and in his usual realm as Loki. You know the third.'
'James Moriarty, Sherlock.' Sherlock flinched and felt some of the blood drain out of his face. John heard the name, and would have been able to deduce through Sherlock's reaction alone who was mentioned. He put a hand on Sherlock's shoulder; the extent of comfort Sherlock was willing to receive.
'He's dead,' said Sherlock. His voice had lowered to just above a whisper.
'How.' It wasn't a question, it was a demand.
'We have reason to believe the third man involved has some sort of control over life and death,' said Mycroft, 'Or at the very least, the hell that souls such as Moriarty's end up in.'
Sherlock didn't reply.
'Your tickets to Washington will be delivered any moment now. Just one other thing, Sherlock, you'll be working with a team. Not your usual team, either. You will be working with the likes of Tony Stark. Try not to irritate them.'
'Who's Tony Stark?' asked Sherlock as John's jaw fell open.
'I imagine John is about to explain,' said Mycroft, 'good day, Sherlock. I'll see you in Washington on Saturday.'
The phone clicked as Mycroft hung up. The mood was deadly. Finally, John spoke.
'I can't believe you don't know who Tony Stark is.'
'Clint Barton, talk quickly.'
'It's Nick. The Avengers Initiative starts this Saturday morning in a conference room in Washington DC. You ready?'
'I'll do my best sir.'
Clint hung up, threw his phone onto the table behind him and raised his bow to eye level again, lining up his shot. He never had been one for talking on the phone; much less so when he was in his element.
'Agent Coulson, I need to speak to Agent Coulson.'
'Just putting you through to him sir,' said the female voice on the line, and Nick waited as the call was redirected.
'Coulson, it's Nick Fury.'
'What can I do for you sir?'
'Do you remember ever hearing about the Avengers Initiative?'
'Yes sir, but not at length.'
'Well, get ready to know all about it. Can you be in Washington on Saturday?'
'I was set to be there anyway sir, it should be fine.'
'Right. Well, be there, and I can introduce you to Steve Rogers.'
The silence on Coulson's end was so complete a feather landing on the ground would have sounded similar to a nuclear explosion.
'Send me the details sir. I'll be there.'
'They'll all be there, Mycroft. I haven't gotten hold of Thor, but we know from Loki's movements and traces that he'll be in our Realm by Friday. I'll send an agent out to recruit him.'
'I haven't had as much luck on my end, I'm afraid.'
'I was unable to contact a certain man by the name of Captain Jack Harkness. He should be in contact within a week or so, I am assured.'
'It'll be too late by then.'
'We'll see. I suppose I'll see you in Washington on Saturday.'
'Nice talking to you, Mycroft.'
They hung up at roughly the same time. Both hoped that their people would be accepted by the other's.
The conference room manager for one of Washington's many hotels hung up the phone and wiped his hand across his forehead. He'd had the strangest day. A man called Fury had called first, asking him to book out "about ten" rooms in the hotel, as well as reserving the conference room for that Saturday. No sooner had he hung up the phone than it rang again, this time some British guy called Mr Holmes ensuring that the previous booking had gone according to plan. Next, a guy called John called up and asked to check their booking, ensuring more than once that the room they were booked in was two single beds, and not some sort of double, queen or king-sized bed. Shortly after John had hung up, a guy named Dean called, said he had the wrong number, apologised and asked if the manager could kindly give them the number of a nearby motel, preferably a cheap one, and one near a pie shop if possible.
The manager decided that night to accept his wife's idea she'd been nagging him about for weeks, a weekend driving holiday, and rapidly booked a trip to New York, leaving the day before before these weirdos arrived.
Chapter 4: Arrivals in Washington
Thor landed in Midgard on the Friday that Nick predicted he would. Odin had sent him back, using a ridiculous amount of energy that manifested as a minor earthquake in most of the nine realms.
He landed, face down, one knee bent, Mjolnir held firmly in his right hand. It was the perfectly dramatic entrance he'd been looking for.
That meant that it was kind of a disappointment when Thor looked around and realised that he was in the middle of a desert with no one to witness his frankly amazing entry.
Thor stood quietly. The silence was profound, aside from the chirping of desert insects, and Thor was not the kind to break it by chatting to himself in his isolation.
Looking at the ground around him, Thor could see the delicate patterns worn on the ground by his entrance. He gave it five minutes before those interfering mortals at SHIELD would arrive to collect him.
Loki had to be around here somewhere, and though Thor disliked the idea of SHIELD as a rule, he had a feeling that they'd be the most likely to know if there was any activity pertaining to Loki.
Thor's guess was right; within three minutes of his dramatic-but-unseen arrival, a helicopter appeared on the horizon, zooming towards him. It was entirely black and looked as much like a SHIELD helicopter as you could reasonably expect.
He waited, hammer firmly clasped in his hand. He'd rather not have scared them by meeting them halfway.
'Booking under the name of Holmes,' said John, leaning against the hotel reception counter carefully. It was around five in the afternoon, and the pair of them had arrived at Washington's international airport just over an hour ago.
'Ah, so, this is for Sherlock Holmes and John Watson?' asked the receptionist behind the counter.
'That'd be us.'
'That's starting Friday, tonight, and leaving on Monday morning?'
'Two single beds, room 402,' said the woman, handing over two key cards to their room and waving them on, 'It's already been paid for.'
John thanked her again and he walked towards the lift, Sherlock following close behind.
The lift doors opened, and the pair of them walked in, John pressing the button for the fourth floor. The doors had just started closing when John spotted a woman running to catch the lift. Like the gentleman he was, John held the door open for her.
'Thanks,' said the woman, standing in front of them as Sherlock rolled his eyes at John's behaviour.
Sherlock examined her as closely as he was able as she pressed the button for the third floor, considering she had his back to him, before saying 'Ah, so you're here for the Avengers conference as well.'
'Sherlock, you're not supposed to…'
'How could you tell?' asked the woman as she whipped around to face him.
'You're clearly armed, which as far as I'm aware is illegal practice in any form of hotel. You show signs of having been trained in combat, in many forms of martial arts that aren't considered necessary or beneficial in a modern world. As a side note, you're also a rather accomplished ballet dancer. Lastly in the lobby, you were on the phone to a man called Mr Fury, and we were informed of his initiative.'
John shook his head slowly before offering his hand to the woman.
'My name's John, and this is Sherlock. He does that.'
'Natasha. So you're the ones Fury brought in?'
'Actually, it was Sherlock's brother who called us, Mycroft.'
Natasha looked as though she was about to add something, before thinking better of it and turning to face the lift doors again.
'Well, see you around,' said Natasha, walking out of the door rather quickly when the lift arrived at her floor. As the doors clanged shut, John turned to Sherlock.
'You could have been a bit more polite.'
'I was perfectly polite.'
'Sherlock, you're meant to… I don't know, introduce yourself before deducing people?'
'You thought she was attractive, didn't you?' asked Sherlock.
'I doubt there's a straight man on the planet that wouldn't think that.'
They stepped out of the lift onto the fourth floor. In a comfortable silence, they found their room (which had two single beds that looked as though they were shouting "See, John, there's two of us!") and dropped off their bags.
'Dinner?' asked Sherlock.
'Sure,' said John, 'I think I saw a pastry store around the corner from here, I'm not hungry enough to eat much else.'
Thor's first thought as he arrived in his room at five thirty on Friday night was that though it appeared comfortable, it was rather too small for him.
He hadn't realised that SHIELD had been expecting him. The man in the helicopter turned out to be a man called Nicolas Fury, with a war-wound to the eye that made Thor show some respect for the man immediately. This respect was enhanced as Fury started telling Thor everything he knew about both the Avengers and Loki.
'Loki's plans have so far involved, apparently, fetching a man out of hell to help him with Earth's technology,' Fury was saying, 'this man is physically weak, but mentally almost as dangerous as Loki himself. We know they're working with a third man, but we're not sure who that is at this stage.'
'What are you asking me to do?'
'I'm asking you to join the Avengers, stop Loki's plans to rule this planet, and while you're at it, help us to stop the other two guys who've decided to come along for the ride.'
'And that's all?' asked Thor, in a voice that managed to be both sarcastic and grand at once.
'I know it's more challenging than we ever expected, but…'
'Of course I'll join you. Though I do have a few conditions.'
'Allow me to take Loki back to Asgard to face Odin's justice. He cannot be allowed to go unpunished.'
The result of this conversation was that Thor was now sitting on the third floor of a hotel room with a bed that he certainly wouldn't be comfortable sleeping in.
He'd thrown the bag of Midgard-approved clothing that Fury had handed him into the corner of the room. He knew nothing of the town he was in, the customs that these people followed, or indeed, how to go about getting a drink.
Downstairs, he finally decided. He left his hammer behind, trusting that Mjolnir would find him if necessary, and went to search for a drink.
He took the fire stairs. There was no way he'd be able to work out that infernal lift again.
'Home sweet home, Sammy,' said Dean, landing gracelessly on one of the two double beds in the motel that the brothers had booked into.
'It could be worse,' said Sam, looking at the mould in the corners of the ceiling and the cracked mirror.
Sam took out his laptop, typing away. His aim was to do as much research as he could, though he really had no idea what he was searching for. He knew, however, that he was simply passing the time until Dean finally decided that it was time for dinner.
True to form, after less than half an hour, Dean stopped reading whatever ridiculous magazine he'd managed to find in the room, and sat up.
'Time for dinner, Sam. Let's hope this guy was right about that pie shop.'
Calling it a pastry shop had been a little overboard, thought John as he walked through the door behind Sherlock. They seemed to sell nothing but sausage rolls and pies, and if John wasn't mistaken, they'd run out of the former.
Well, pies for dinner it was then. Well, a pie for his dinner at any rate. Sherlock had decided he wasn't hungry, and even though John had tried time and time again to talk to him about jet lag and eating when you'd normally eat just to get used to the time difference, Sherlock had first scoffed before pointedly ignoring him.
'Uh… just a regular beef pie, thanks,' said John.
In typical pie-from-a-pie-shop style, it was handed to him in a white paper back with a plastic packet of sauce hidden somewhere in it. He went and sat down opposite Sherlock before digging into his (admittedly delicious) dinner.
There weren't many other people in the shop, and those that were there certainly looked like locals. When John had eaten just over half of his pie, Sherlock prodded his forearm and indicated the two men walking into the shop.
'You said I was meant to introduce myself first,' said Sherlock, 'Those two are in the Avengers as well.'
John looked subtly over his shoulder at them. The shorter one (who was still intimidatingly tall, especially from John's perspective) was busy ordering about four pies from the man at the counter. They looked travel worn, tired, yet somehow completely at home in this pie shop in Washington. They sat down at a table near the window.
'Curious.' said Sherlock.
'They're clearly not from around here. They're not staying at the hotel, they've instead opted for a cheaper motel, the one opposite this shop, and I'm fairly sure they chose that specific motel purely because of its proximity to these pies.'
'Oh, come on Sherlock, you can't deduce something like tha…' began John, but as he turned around to look at the awestruck expression on the shorter man's face upon beholding the meat-filled pastry, John had to concede Sherlock's point.
'They were called in last minute. Both appear practised at combat and have done their fair share of fighting, though their intelligence is fairly limited. The taller one is fractionally more intelligent than his brother.'
'Why, what did you expect?'
John shrugged. He hadn't given it much thought, though they looked completely dissimilar in his opinion.
Sherlock stood up and went over to them before John could stop him and said quite calmly, 'So, tell me how your father died.'
The pair of them looked up at him stunned. The shorter one became enraged.
'Look, you dick, I don't know what you're trying to say, but… back off!'
'I told you he wasn't very intelligent, John,' said Sherlock over his shoulder to John.
'Sherlock, jeez…' said John, leaping towards Sherlock and pushing him out of the way as the man threw a punch directly at Sherlock's face.
'Look, I'm sorry,' said John, standing between Sherlock and the other man, his hands out. He felt like a Chihuahua among wolves. 'He does that. What was your name?'
'Why would I tell you that?'
'Well, it would probably be useful seeing as we're all headed to the same conference tomorrow,' said Sherlock.
The man blanched.
'Sam Winchester,' said the taller man, holding out his hand. John shook it. 'This is my brother, Dean.'
John ignored Sherlock's smirk at his correct deduction.
'Well, you've just seen why we're here,' said John, 'What're you two here for?'
Dean and Sam looked at each other. Clearly, they hadn't thought this part through.
'Look, you're not going to believe us.'
'… we hunt demons,' said Sam, waving his hands around as though he knew John and Sherlock wouldn't believe him.
'Not to mention the devil,' said Dean.
'I was going to leave that part out.'
'Yeah, well, it's impressive, ok?'
Sherlock stared. John stared at Sherlock. He clearly believed them. Dean stared at Sherlock, wanting to punch him. Sam looked at John in sympathy, awe and irritation, somehow all at once.
'Right, then,' said John, 'Where are you two staying?'
From his vantage point in the surveillance room, Mycroft watched as Avengers ran into each other around the hotel. He sighed when Sherlock was nearly punched clean in the face by Dean Winchester. Honestly, Mycroft didn't know why Nick hired the man; he was completely irrational and easily provoked into wanton violence.
'Still watching them all, Big Brother?' asked Nick, leaning on the door frame to the room.
'I'm afraid that one's been used before, Mr Fury,' replied Mycroft, eyes trained on the screens.
'You wouldn't believe the trouble I've seen some of these men get up to.'
Nick leant over to stare at the screen. Sure, four of them seemed to be having pie in a pie shop. Thor was in the hotel's restaurant, clearly confused as to how the whole process worked. Clint, Natasha and Bruce had opted to stay in their rooms; Clint and Natasha through boredom, while Bruce was drinking a clear liquid that Nick was certain wasn't water.
Tony was in the bar, of course. Pepper wouldn't be happy, but then again, it didn't look like he was chatting up anyone specific, which had to count for something.
'You should really get some sleep,' said Nick, 'The conference starts tomorrow morning, and you're probably jet lagged.'
'When you've got a job like mine, Mr Fury, sleep is not a priority.'
'What job was that again?'
'I occupy a minor position in the British government.'
'I call bullshit on that one.'
'I'll see you tomorrow then,' said Nick, leaving. He'd had a long day, and if Mycroft thought sleeping wasn't a priority, well, he could fall asleep at the meeting tomorrow if he liked.
'Good evening,' said Mycroft.
'Night,' said Nick, walking out in the direction of his room.
Today may have been a long day, but he had a feeling tomorrow was going to be, quite simply, a nightmare.
Chapter 5: The Intergalactic Conference
It was thirty minutes before he was meant to be leaving for the conference, and Nick was standing in his hotel room's bathroom, splashing cold water onto his face.
He couldn't seem to shake the feeling that this was a really bad idea. How had he let Mycroft into his Initiative? How had he been so thick as to order in the goddamned Winchester brothers to feel as though he was being productive? It was going to be difficult enough as it was. Now they had upwards of ten Avengers, none of whom were particularly good at working with others, locked in a room for a few hours while they discussed Thor's adopted brother, Sherlock Holmes' greatest enemy (who was supposed to be dead) and as Mycroft had so kindly informed him over the phone less than ten minutes ago, an unknown man who was somehow able to resurrect Moriarty from the dead.
Nick's fingers twitched in the direction of the bar fridge in his room. As much as he'd love to sit down and have a couple of shots of… well, anything at this rate… he knew that he needed every sense of his functioning as well as humanly possible.
Stark was arrogant. Rogers was overly patriotic. Thor was a technologically backward emotional wreck. Barton was silent, Banner was resentful; Romanoff was liable to hit people who treated her as anything less than a warrior. Dean and Sam were a liability, regardless of what they said, despite their possible use. After googling Sherlock Holmes and reading John Watson's blog, he was regretting letting Mycroft even live, let alone invite his brother along.
Upon similarly googling Captain Jack Harkness, he shut his laptop with a snap and thanked every being in existence that the man wasn't available. For the mission, that was. He seemed to be extremely available in a variety of other ways.
Finally, with twenty five minutes to go til the meeting, Nick decided he might as well go up to the room now. He wasn't getting any less nervous. He affixed his eye patch and walked out of his room.
'Ah, Mr Fury,' said Mycroft as the door to the conference room they'd hired opened, 'you're early. Do sit down.'
Nick looked at Mycroft with a mixture of astonishment and annoyance.
'You're already here.'
Nick took his seat at the table and took a long drink from the glass of water in front of him.
'You seem a little stressed.'
'No kidding. We're about to gather ten of the most arrogant people in the known universe and watch them chat over a meeting.'
'Ten? I can assure you, Mr Fury, that John Watson isn't the slightest bit so.'
'Well, nine, and their freaking army doctor buddy.'
'So you found his website?'
'Indeed I did.'
Nick took another drink. Mycroft leant back in his chair and checked his pocket watch.
At that moment, Agent Coulson strode through the door and asked 'Mr Fury, is he here yet? Is Captain… ah. Who's this, sorry Sir?'
Nick straightened up a bit. 'Agent Philip Coulson, this is Mycroft Holmes. He… he has a minor position in the British government.'
'If you don't mind me asking sir, but I wasn't aware we were letting the United Kingdom into this?'
'We weren't. He invited himself.'
Mycroft smiled politely as though they'd actually been talking about the weather. 'Pleased to meet you, Agent Coulson. I'm sure the meeting will be starting shortly.'
Coulson sat down warily and glanced over at Mycroft, before looking at Nick and raising an eyebrow. Nick shrugged and went back to his drink, though not before saying 'In answer to your previous question, Coulson, he'll be here soon. The meeting doesn't start for another ten minutes.'
Coulson smiled and leant back in his chair. It was clear that he quite simply couldn't wait for the meeting to start. Nick envied him. Mycroft thought he may have been the spirit of a child trapped in a middle-aged man's body.
As the ten minutes went by, the Avengers walked in. Thor was first after Coulson, looking dazed and confused. He immediately asked Nick for food, which Nick ordered from the very confused hotel staff member he called. Natasha walked in soon afterwards, followed immediately by Clint. John and Sherlock walked in soon after that, and Nick was given his first glimpse at the consulting detective. He looked vaguely intimidating, but more on an intelligent front than a powerful one. Bruce walked in, tired and dejected. Mycroft eyed him warily. Tony walked in soon after that; five minutes late, a token effort for him to retain his "too-cool-to-be-on-time" identity without risking missing out on a mission he desperately wanted in on. Steve arrived, already wearing his costume. This raised looks from everyone on the table; mostly raised eyebrows and sniggering, but Coulson's face lit up like a Christmas tree. Dean and Sam trundled in last, sitting down beside John.
The chatter had started, and so, feeling like a school teacher, Nick stood up and said 'ok, guys, settle down. We need to get to the business side of this meeting.'
Tony and Dean scoffed, then looked at each other, confused. Dean gave Tony a thumbs up, whispering to Sam 'That's Tony Stark. Right there, Sammy.'
Nick coughed and waited for silence, which he got. He was rather intimidating, after all.
'There was an idea. To bring together a group of remarkable people, so that when we needed them, they could fight the battles we never could.'
Sherlock rolled his eyes and yawned. John elbowed him in the ribs.
'Now Mycroft here,' said Nick, indicating the man sitting to his right, 'Decided that you all need a bit of overseas help, and a bit of perspective on how international this problem really is.'
Everyone, aside from Sherlock, looked a little perplexed at this statement.
'I thought we needed a greater representation of the planet in our meeting, that's all,' said Mycroft.
'And our years of training and missions in countries all over the world don't count, huh?' asked Romanoff.
'To be fair, Natasha, that's pretty much just you, and Stark's whole kidnapping escapade,' replied Nick, 'Now let's get back on topic. Loki.'
The air was thicker now. Thor looked slightly torn.
'Loki has managed to recruit a man called James Moriarty' continued Nick, 'This normally wouldn't be a talking point. However, Moriarty just so happens to have been dead for two years.'
'Mori-who?' asked Dean.
Sherlock glared. 'Jim Moriarty, the world's only consulting criminal, and until very recently, dead.'
'Consulting criminal?' asked Dean, 'Sounds like he'd have gone to… oh, no.'
'What?' asked Sherlock.
Dean turned to Nick and Mycroft, before asking 'Do your files have anything on a dude called Crowley?'
Mycroft's head tilted. Nick frowned. 'I'm assuming this guy's important.'
'Well,' started Sam, 'If Moriarty, or whatever his name is, was dead, and he was a consulting criminal, he'd have gone to hell, right?'
'Hang on, Christianity's real?' asked Bruce.
'You are in a room with Thor, you realise,' said John, gesturing towards the now-vaguely irritated Norse God.
'Look, we're not getting into that,' said Sam, 'We've met Kiva and Odin and…'
'You've met my father?' asked Thor.
'Well, either him or one hell of an imposter. Look, the important thing is, Crowley's a crossroads demon, right? And, at the moment anyway, he's king of hell. The only guy who can let anyone out of hell is him.'
'So what you're saying is…' began Nick.
'Well, Loki must have made a deal with Crowley for Moriarty's soul,' finished Sam.
There was silence in the room for a few seconds.
'Are you certain about this?' asked Mycroft.
'Well, we can't be sure.'
'We could Sam, Cas'd be able to find out,' said Dean.
'Cas?' asked Nick, 'The angel that follows you two about?'
'Actually, how the hell do you know about Cas anyway?' asked Dean.
'An enormous source of energy was following around a couple of boys in a dodgy old car,' said Nick, 'Hell, we'd have to have been morons not to notice that.'
Dean let the affront to his car slide as he thought about how many people he hadn't even thought about were tracking him.'
'I'm going to call Cas. He's the only one that'd be able to tell us what the hell's going on with this soul.'
Everyone looked in astonishment as Dean bowed his head, closed his eyes and wrung his hands together.
'Cas, if you're there, it'd be great if you could get your feather ass down here and sort out some hell stuff for us,' said Dean, 'Cheers.'
'What the hell was that?' asked Natasha.
'That was a summons, if I'm not mistaken,' said Castiel from directly behind Natasha's chair. She squealed and turned around to face the man.
Sherlock rolled his eyes.
'You were already here, obviously.'
Dean stared at Sherlock. Sherlock was directly opposite Natasha. He'd seen the angel appear out of thin air. Everyone else started to stare at Sherlock, save for Mycroft, who rolled his eyes and sighed.
'He's been here this entire time. Normally an angel wouldn't be following around one of these two, but for a meeting involving Gods? No angel would pass up the chance.'
'Tell me,' asked John, 'how did angels save being deleted from your hard drive?'
'It was a case, six years ago. It's in my file.'
Castiel was looking at Sherlock, frowning. 'How does he know I was here?'
'It's obvious, really…'
'Sherlock, not now,' said Mycroft, and for one of the rare occasions in his life, Sherlock held his tongue.
'Well, Cas?' asked Dean, 'Know anything… weird… that's happened with Crowley recently?'
'We do not keep track of every soul that goes in and out of hell, Dean.'
'Yeah, but this guy? Apparently he's a total nutjob, and the guy who sprung him out was some sort of god.'
'You are fortunate in this case,' said Castiel, 'There was a soul. He was let out of hell recently, about two weeks ago. He'd been in there for two years. We only paid attention because the deal that was made gave Crowley a huge advantage.'
'How so?' asked Nick. On a normal day, he'd feel odd addressing an angel. Seems today was to be different.
'Crowley was offered a thousand and one souls in exchange for the soul of James Moriarty,' said Cas, 'We're not sure why. Souls from another realm give anyone a great advantage, especially with heaven in the chaos it is in now.'
'You know of Jotunheim?' asked Thor.
'They have not escaped our notice,' said Cas, 'I have seen you once before, Thor. You would not remember me.'
'My apologies for forgetting.'
'It is only to be expected,' said Cas, 'Many of us observed you, and though we remember you, you wouldn't remember us.'
Cas turned to Dean. 'I will go find Crowley and ask him what deal was made.'
'Thanks Cas, that'd be great,' said Dean, a little overwhelmed at everyone's deconstruction of what was essentially his guardian angel.
'Well, that's that then,' said Clint, 'So. Moriarty, Crowley, Loki. What do we know? What should we know?'
At that, a brainstorming session began. Loki's strengths and weaknesses were outlined by Thor, Moriarty's by Sherlock and occasionally John, and Crowley's by Sam and Dean. The list of weaknesses they had in common were depressingly few; essentially, the desire to kill and mess around with people for fun. Not only that, but upon including Crowley, they realised that they were working against Moriarty's criminal web, Loki's frost giants, and what could be anywhere up to every demon in hell.
Everyone began inputting their own talents, their ideas, their various strategies. It was quickly decided that while Sherlock was useful for predicting the movements of those involved (and pissing off everyone at the table for his ever-so-accurate deductions), his knowledge of war tactics was pathetic. John, Steve and Tony were far more experienced at this, collaborating on several strategies. Thor aided them where he could, though his knowledge of Earth-bound combat was fractured, and he occasionally made mistakes that made the other three war heroes stare at him in astonishment. They came up with several imaginative ideas to do with salt, holy water and fire, mixing their defence and attack strategies as Sam and Dean explained how to fight demons. Clint and Natasha gave people basic run downs on one to one combat and maintaining composure in a battle scenario. During this speech, John, Tony and Steve were silent, reminiscing. When Coulson got out of his discussion with Mycroft and Nick about team strategies, he moved seats and mentioned to Steve how much of a fan he was. Tony decided to follow suit, interrupting Sherlock and Bruce's conversation about the possibility of biological warfare to say to Bruce 'I'm a massive fan of how you lose control and turn into a giant green rage monster, by the way.'
Bruce thanked him cautiously, but Steve rose to his defence anyway.
'Tactful,' he said.
'What?' asked Tony.
'I mean, that was completely tactless.'
'And you need to stick your nose in why?' asked Tony 'No offence, but I don't work well with others.'
Steve got angry. 'Big man in a suit of armour. Take that away and what are you?'
'Uh, a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist?'
Everyone at the table burst out laughing. Even Mycroft added his own appreciative chuckle.
'Ok, everyone,' said John, watching the laughter subside, 'Settle down. We're nearly done for the day anyway.'
John's sense and general calm helped everyone settle back into their work, and their plans went spiralling in all kinds of directions. Finally, as the day wore on and the light grew darker, they were forced to concede that the meeting had to be concluded.
The Avengers thanked each other and walked off in their own separate directions, headed to rooms or dinner as they saw fit, until only Mycroft and Nick remained.
Nick spoke up first.
'No one's dead.'
'I suppose you could call the day a success, then.'
'I should've said, no one's dead yet.'
And Mycroft had to concede, with the variety of egotistical personalities they'd invited into one room, no doubt there'd be a massive argument the following day, the only other day of their conference. And arguments among powerful people tended to have powerful consequences.
The next morning, everyone was woken up by a phone call. Not all at once, obviously; Coulson, Mycroft and Fury called everyone in the Avengers as quickly as they could.
This was due to the phone call Mycroft had received at 3.48am. He'd woken up quickly, a talent he'd gained over time as more and more of his business was conducted at ungodly hours.
It was Anthea. She'd returned to London shortly after Fury had agreed to add Mycroft's choice of people to the Avengers, mostly because the government seemed to be falling apart without one of Mycroft's close associates in the system. True to her form, she kept him up to date with every piece of information that might be relevant to his current work in the Avengers.
As it was, as Mycroft listened to Anthea's report, it couldn't be more relevant.
There'd been a sighting of Moriarty in London. Outside the National History Museum. He'd only been there for thirty seconds before he was recognised. Reports stated that he smiled and closed his eyes as the foyer, and for some reason only the foyer, exploded wildly. Moriarty came into view as the smoke cleared, just in time for witnesses to see another figure grip his shoulder, the pair of them vanishing into thin air.
It had to be Loki. Crowley couldn't teleport humans, only human souls. At least, that was what the Winchester brothers had said.
It was 5.30am by the time they'd called everyone in their rooms and told them. Their calls were met with a combination of swearing, eagerness and boredom, but eventually, they all got the message.
Get to the hotel airport. Meet at International terminal two.
And for god's sake, we're going incognito.
Tony, you're going to have to wear a disguise. We're sending a wig and a hat up to your room.
It was John that first decided that getting nine Avengers onto a plane was possibly the worst idea in the history of humanity, second of course only to Britain's founding of America.
Ten of them were sitting around outside the boarding gate. Mycroft, unfortunately, was the only one flying first class. He considered himself a facilitator rather than an actual hero, and mentioned his hatred of legwork. Thor was still a little unsure as to what the function of a plane was, no matter how many times Sherlock expressed annoyance at his idiocy and Natasha patiently tried to explain that there was a part of the world that wasn't America, and that they were heading towards it.
Fury, Banner and Coulson had remained in Washington. From what they knew, this was probably a trap, and it was far wiser to keep some of them in the United States.
Thor had, more than once, mentioned his ability to travel above the speed of sound while on Earth. Tony was arguing that he not only had a suit capable of supersonic travel, he had a private airline they could all fly on, free of charge, and possibly get treated to a show by some of the women on his plane.
That was where John drew the line. Somehow, with all the differences already gone over in the Avengers between America and England, it was casual mentioning of strippers that he first put his foot down at.
'We do not need dancing women on a plane flight!'
'And why not?' On Mycroft's request, Tony had put on a very convincing British accent to further disguise himself.
John fumed. 'Because we're not! We're supposed to be flying incognito, remember? Undercover? Which also happens to be the reason that we're flying a public airline in economy class, and why you are wearing ridiculous glasses in an attempt not to be recognised. '
It was true. Tony had donned sunglasses, a wig and a fedora, no less, as well as ditching the suit for a far more comfortable and much less impressive t-shirt and a pair of track pants, so that the public wouldn't recognise him. Luckily passports hadn't been an issue; between Mycroft and Nick they had enough contacts in customs and immigration to bring down the airport. Their influence was great enough that the security officials didn't even bat an eyelid as Tony's suit-suitcase, Thor's hammer and a portable (and far less strong) version of Captain America's shield that Tony himself had designed on Nick's request, went through the X-ray machine.
Tony picked at his wig, which was greying blonde, shoulder length and bordering on being as ridiculous and conspicuous as Thor's actual hair.
'Do I really need the wig? I just feel as though I could take it off and we'd probably be…'
'Yes, you do.'
Something about John brooked no argument, and Tony spent the last fifteen minutes before boarding complaining via text to Pepper about the horrors of flying economy though he could clearly afford to fly business at least. The sole reply he received in that time was 'Get over it. See you when you get back.'
Feeling like his Avenger nickname should be something along the lines of "babysitter" John walked over to Sam and Dean, both of whom were looking extremely grim. Dean was drinking out of a water bottle that John was almost sure did not contain water.
'You all right?' John asked politely.
'Just a bit nervous is all,' said Dean, taking another swig of definitely-not-water.
Dean laughed. 'Yeah, you could say that.'
'Demons,' said Sam, 'Last time we were on a plane, the flight had only been going for forty minutes when all the hostesses turned out to be demons. Freaked the hell out of Dean; he's bad with flying usually. It's worse when the hostess you've been hitting on turns out to be a mindless killer.'
Dean seemed to be trying to crawl into his water bottle at this point.
'Look, it'll be fine,' said John, trying his hardest to sound convincing, 'Mycroft's people are good, they'll have done background checks on every single person on that plane. If there was a problem, they'd have fixed it by now.'
Dean nodded. Sam looked pityingly at John.
John nodded and walked off again, this time in Mycroft's direction.
'You have done background checks on everyone on this plane, haven't you?'
'Of course I have, John.'
'Any issues? Anything we should know about?'
'All spotless, as far as I can see,' said Mycroft, 'we relocated six passengers and one airline attendant with a less than clean criminal record. Aside from that, all clear.'
'All clear,' repeated John, 'Good. That's good.'
A sudden smashing noise brought John's attention back to the seats. Sherlock had apparently just leapt out of the chair, and a broken glass bottle of Coke lay by Thor's right boot. As John approached, Sherlock began talking to him.
'It appears that Thor here believes that smashing a glass upon finishing the drink will lead to his being brought another.'
Thor was looking at the glass by his foot when he suddenly hit his hand hard into his forehead.
'She told me about that, the drinks. I must remember not to do that.'
John stood there. He was on the verge of throwing in the towel and letting Sherlock run around as one of these Avengers without him, but it had been made very clear at the meeting that if Sherlock was going to be there, John had to be there too, and there was no way Sherlock was passing up the chance to not only deduce a god, but finally get Moriarty safely out of the way.
'John, I'm bored.'
'Look, the plane starts boarding in about five minutes and knowing your brother we'll all be the first on the plane. Five minutes. Just… don't do anything stupid for five minutes.'
'I may have to conduct an experiment.'
'Well, maybe an experiment you can do while standing there as still as you possibly can. I'm going to talk to Clint and Natasha.'
'She's not interested in you.'
'Trust me, I already knew that.'
John walked over and sat between Natasha and Clint. Black Widow and Hawkeye, he thought to himself, ridiculously ostentatious nicknames for what seemed to be perfectly ordinary, albeit powerful people. Then again, John was lucky enough that he hadn't yet seen the full extent of their abilities. As far as he knew, Hawkeye was a bit quiet and good with a bow and arrow, and Black Widow had done some martial arts.
'Thank god the weather's good for flying, eh?'
John and Natasha had a regular, normal conversation that drifted through the realms of weather, flying, previous holidays and eventually his time in Afghanistan. Though he skimmed over the details, Natasha seemed suitably impressed. Though, as John grudgingly admitted, Sherlock was right when he said she clearly wasn't interested. A few minutes later, the plane was called for boarding, so the ten of them stood up and headed straight for priority boarding. Unsurprisingly, they were accepted through, and walked onto the plane earlier than everyone else.
'You have no idea the trouble I went to for your… costumes… in particular, Mr Stark and Mr Rogers,' said Mycroft just before he turned off to the first class plane entry, 'I don't quite understand why you thought it necessary. I assure you there will be no commotion on this journey. Farewell.'
'Git,' said Dean as Mycroft waltzed down the corridor towards his far more comfortable seat, umbrella in hand, as though he believed it possible for rain to fall through the roof of an aircraft.
The nine Avengers found their seats; luckily, the first three rows of economy. The seating arrangement of the plane was three on either side and four in the middle, and they had been allocated three rows of three.
Each of them received a text at the same time telling them in no uncertain terms that they were to sit where they'd been allocated, else Mycroft would most certainly know about it.
Sam clambered into the window seat of the front row. Dean sat beside him, and Natasha sat next to Dean. Dean's nausea and fear subsided a little as he turned to try any sort of pick up line he could. Sam shook his head in a resigned manner.
Sherlock was allocated to the window seat in the middle row, John next to him and Steve on the aisle. John realised at this point that he was seated in the centre of the nine of them, and wondered quietly if that was Mycroft's intention.
'Yes, it was,' said Sherlock, and John nodded.
Clint slid into the window of the third row, Tony sat beside him and, after about five minutes of Thor standing around and being confused, Tony reached over and pulled him into the seat next to him.
'Seatbelt on, big guy,' said Tony.
Tony stopped in his tracks.
'You don't know what a seatbelt is?'
'I assure you we have no cause for them in Asgard.'
Tony tried as hard as he could to reconcile himself to both educating Thor and not treating him as though he was five. If he did so, he imagined Thor could strike him down in seconds.
'Hey there…' began Dean, before Natasha cautiously stepped on his foot. Dean yelped in pain.
'I was just trying to say hello!'
Natasha looked over at Dean, one eyebrow raised as high as she could possibly get it to go.
'Fine,' said Dean. He sullenly turned to face the front of the aircraft, alternating between staring and checking his phone for no reason. Sam was looking out the window, and subtly whispering "Christo" every time a steward walked past.
'What the hell are you doing?' asked Natasha.
'Demons,' said Sam, 'They flinch if they hear it.'
Natasha shrugged and turned back to the magazine she'd been reading.
'Just checking,' she said, turning the page and reading on.
Sherlock was staring out of the window, just as John expected he would, so he turned to his right and started talking to Steve.
'War hero, then?'
'Sort of,' said Steve. He wasn't that forthcoming with more information.
'Bad experience with a plane as well, then?'
'Last time I was in a plane, I had to crash it into the snow, wound up frozen and woke up in the 21st Century.'
John shook his head. 'We're not the most stable lot, are we?'
'Not really, no,' said Steve, smiling a little, 'Between the lot of us we've got a lot of demons.'
'Demons!' asked Dean, a little too loudly, leaning over the seat to stare at Steve.
'Dean, if any of us other than you and Sam saw a demon, would we know what it was?'
Dean looked at John.
'Whatever,' he said, falling back into his seat.
Steve and John struck up a conversation about the different wars they'd been involved in while Dean started tapping his leg up and down. Sam was acting a little twitchy as well.
'What the hell is wrong with you two?' asked Natasha.
'Look, lady, the last time we were on a flight like this, it was forty minutes in when the bastards took over the plane. So forgive us if we're not exactly excited about this.'
'Well, panicking seems to be helping a hell of a lot,' said Natasha sarcastically.
Dean frowned and looked to retaliate, but Natasha shot him a threatening look and he went back to tapping his foot on the ground.
'Attention, passengers. We're just waiting on one more passenger, and then we can take off. We apologise for the delay.'
'What the hell is taking so long?' asked Tony.
As a matter of fact, there was one passenger missing from the flight. Moriarty had walked up to the gate shortly after the Avengers had found their seats. He'd expected Loki to be waiting there for him.
Luckily for him, though he didn't know it, Loki had decided to be late.
Moriarty smiled at the ground staff as they let him onto the plane. He sauntered into the business class corridor, finding his seat; this section of the plane had three rows of two seats each, and Moriarty's seat was on the right hand row, an aisle seat.
He sat down in his seat, sliding his briefcase under the seat in front of him. He lounged back in his chair, accepting a glass of mediocre wine from one of the waitresses. She tapped her lapel three times when walking past him; this informed him that the hostess was a demon of Crowley's, there to protect Moriarty in the unlikely event that something went wrong.
Moriarty had been fairly confident though. He'd checked this flight a couple of days ago, and it was completely clear of anyone he needed to worry about.
And why had he chosen this specific flight? Because of all the places people would be looking for him after he was seen in London, was definitely on a plane going TO London.
Moriarty sighed. He could already tell that this flight was going to be rather dull.
The man in the seat across the aisle from him noticed his sigh and leaned over the armrest. He had short black hair, an army coat and a winning smile.
'Captain Jack Harkness, and you are…?'
'Richard Brook,' said Moriarty, unable to resist using the most sentimental of his code names.
'I knew a Richard once,' said the Captain, 'Great man. In a lot of ways, if you know what I mean.'
Moriarty chuckled appreciatively at the joke. For some reason, he wasn't repelled by this man quite as much as he normally was by the general masses. Especially ones that were so clearly hitting on him. Moriarty examined the man as closely and quickly as he could, and gleaned little; he was a rogue government worker or something similar, and was quite a lot older than he looked.
'So,' asked Jack, leaning back in his chair, his upper body still turned towards Moriarty, 'What brings you on the flight across the pond?'
'Oh, you know,' said Moriarty, 'Business. Same old. Yourself?'
'Oh, just a little… international mission,' said Jack, grin widening, 'Helping out an old friend with a couple of things.'
Mission, huh? Moriarty decided to keep him talking. They conversed for a while about relatively benign topics; Jack's being real, decided Moriarty after examining his movements, Moriarty's of course being entirely fictional. He'd picked up his children's storyteller personality for the flight, deciding it was harmless enough. He was surprised that the man didn't recognise him; he had been international news only a couple of years ago. The world moved faster than even he'd realised.
Shortly after an announcement to do with his lateness, Loki walked onto the plane. He was wearing his coat and scarf combination, a tad less conspicuous than the outfit he'd been wearing when Moriarty had first met him. Loki slid into the window seat next to Moriarty, an easy thing to do with the legroom they had.
'You're late, Loki.'
'I know. Listen, when the plane lands, we need to leave London again immediately. These mortals may be incompetent, but they could certainly be worse.'
'Don't worry, Crowley's got a house in Australia. We'll finalise our plans there, don't worry for now.'
'There's three of you?'
'Who is this mortal?' asked Loki, pointing at Jack.
'Captain Jack Harkness,' he said, leaning over to shake Loki's hand. On Moriarty's nod, Loki obliged, shaking Jack's hand warily.
Jack leant back into his seat, laughing silently.
'What is it?' asked Moriarty.
'Nothing, nothing,' said Jack, giggling, 'just… mortal. Hah.'
'It's a weird habit of his, I admit.'
Jack laughed again. 'Mortal. God help me.'
The plane had been in the air for thirty eight minutes exactly. This they knew, because Dean had opened the timer function on his phone and was waiting for the forty minute mark. It was just to reassure himself, he told everyone else, but it seemed to do nothing but make him worse and worse as the clock ticked closer to forty minutes.
At thirty eight minutes and thirty seconds, Natasha said 'Right, that's it,' reached into her right hand pocket, pulled out a tiny pen-like device and stabbed Dean in the thigh.
'Hey, what…' he started before passing out, his head lolling to one side.
'What did you just do?' asked Sam, eyes wide.
'Relax, it's a sedative,' said Natasha, 'A strong one, but just a sedative. He'll wake up in about an hour.'
Sam looked at Natasha in fear and awe before turning back to staring out the window.
'Mr Stark, could you tell me where the facilities are?' asked Thor. Tony had just managed to explain to Thor how the headphones worked ten minutes ago, and Thor had been delighted by it.
'What, you mean the restroom? Yeah, just down there. Go to the business class ones, they're… well, they're cleaner.'
'Thank you, friend,' said Thor. He stood up with difficulty, having forgotten about the seat belt at first.
As he walked through the curtains between the classes, Thor saw something that he'd never expected to see; there, on the other side of the plane, was his adopted brother, sitting next to the man he'd been told about only the day before.
Without knowing what he did, Thor simply said 'Loki!' as loudly as he possibly could. The passengers turned to stare at him. Loki blanched. Moriarty smiled.
John stood up. Sherlock had been asleep on his shoulder; it was a tendency of his to catch up on much-needed sleep on planes, and John's shoulder was apparently more comfortable than the window. Sherlock woke just as Tony was pulling down his suit-suitcase. Steve grabbed his shield, which had been under the seat in front of him, and unlocked it. Natasha dashed through the curtains at top speed.
Sam stayed in his seat. Dean was still completely unconscious.
What they were greeted with, upon entering business class, was a section of the plane completely bordered with ice, and Thor spinning Mjolnir at top speed towards one of the many apparitions of Loki in the plane.
'Thor, no!' yelled Natasha, but it was too late. The hammer went straight through the image and out of the plane, smashing through the wall effortlessly. An alarm started, and the plan began dropping towards the right. The oxygen masks fell from the roof and the other passengers, some screaming, rushed to get them on.
Loki grinned. 'Is that the best you can do, brother?'
Thor looked towards the other passengers.
'Time to leave, I think,' said Loki. He grabbed Moriarty by the shoulder and vanished, though not before tapping his sceptre against the ground and freezing a large chunk of the plane. The engines caved in without the warmth and oxygen to support them, and the plane's descent became more rapid.
'Tony!' yelled Natasha.
'Right, on it!' said Tony. His suit now on, he and Thor leapt out of the plane, each dashing to one side and grabbing the plane where the wings join the body.
'Go!' said Tony, and the pair of them tried to keep the plane airborne.
'It's not working!' yelled a voice that none of them recognised. Captain Jack Harkness was standing up now, oxygen mask forgotten. He pulled out his phone.
'Who the hell are you!' asked John as Jack rapidly dialled a number.
'No time for that now,' said Jack, holding the phone up to his ear, 'I'm calling for the one man who can help us with this.'
The Doctor was in the console room, Converse-clad shoes resting against the controls when the phone rang.
'Doctor, it's me.'
'Well, Captain Jack Harkness,' said the Doctor, 'What's happening?'
'Look, the plane's going down and there's nothing I can do to stop it. A couple of guys, Tony Stark and some other guy are trying to hold it up but it's not working. Would you mind?'
'On my way,' said the Doctor, punching in the coordinates as Jack gave them to him.
The blue police box that emerged in the sky in front of them confused the hell out of Tony and Thor. This confusion grew when a man stepped out of it and yelled at them.
'Hold on! Just a minute!'
An electric field of some sort flew through the door to the police box and somehow, captured the plane. A loud whirring noise echoed through the air, and without any warning whatsoever, Tony, Thor, and every other passenger on the plane suddenly found themselves on a runway. A sign in the distance proclaimed it to be Charles de Gaulle airport.
'Would someone mind telling me how the hell we got to France?' asked Tony, flying up to land on the wing of the plane.
Jack smiled. 'Captain Jack Harkness,' he said, extending a hand to Tony, 'And that man who just saved our lives is the Doctor.'
The Doctor stepped out of his TARDIS and waved at Jack, grinning like a madman.
'We'd better find somewhere to talk about all of this,' said John, 'and quickly.'
Natasha popped the emergency exit and the passengers ran off the plane as quickly as they could. Mycroft walked down from first class, shaking his head as though he completely expected something like this to happen. The Avengers got out one by one.
'Ah, guys?' asked Sam, 'Dean's still out.'
'We'll catch him up later,' said Sherlock as Natasha and Sam put Dean's arms around their shoulders and dragged the unconscious man across the runway.
Mycroft sighed. The debrief for this was going to be huge.
In case you haven't picked it up yet, dear reader, I've already written a fair chunk of this. There's no way I'd be able to write this quickly.
When my posting is up to date with my writing, I'll leave another note.
Hope you're enjoying it so far!
Chapter 7: The Bookshop Incident
Author's note; This chapter contains characters from Black Books, a British comedy show. If you've seen it, you'll find it far funnier, but for those who haven't; Bernard is a perpetually drunk Irish man who owns a bookstore, and Manny is his long-suffering bearded servant.
After less than five metres, Natasha and Sam dropped Dean. They did this in the nicest way they possibly could. Unfortunately, Dean still ended up lying down in what looked like a very uncomfortable position on the tarmac.
'Hate to interrupt, I'm all for parking where you land, but I really can't leave the Tardis on a runway,' said the Doctor, pointing over his shoulder at the blue box.
'I have to admit, I didn't expect to see you here, Doctor,' said Mycroft, looking at the Doctor, 'I wasn't aware you even knew about the Avengers.'
'The Avengers?' asked the Doctor and Jack at the same time.
'Hang on, what?' asked Sam, 'Who even are you two?'
'The Doctor is an extra-terrestrial being from the planet Gallifrey,' said Mycroft in an almost bored manner, 'Captain Jack Harkness is an immortal man who once travelled with him.'
The Doctor tilted his head and looked at Jack. 'Is he with Torchwood? He doesn't look the type.'
Jack shrugged. 'I've never met the guy.'
'That's what I said to Gwen,' muttered Mycroft, as the Doctor said 'Ok, so… the Avengers?'
'Look, does anyone mind if we get off the runway?' asked John, indicating the angry-looking French guards jogging towards them, 'we're not exactly meant to be here.'
The Doctor looked around. 'Well, I've been in worse, I suppose. Into the Tardis, everyone!'
At this point, no one had any idea what was going on. Tony was still wearing his suit. Thor was windblown from trying to hold up the plane. Steve was clutching his makeshift shield. Clint was holding his bow, though without an arrow ready. Dean was unconscious.
'Just… put the weapons away, would you?' said the Doctor, 'I'm not a huge fan of guns.'
Tony pressed a button on the side of his suit and it slowly morphed back to its suitcase form. Steve flicked his shield in. Clint pulled his bow over his shoulder.
'My deepest apologies, Doctor, but you're going to change your mind about that quite soon,' said Mycroft.
The Doctor rolled his eyes and opened the Tardis door. Jack rushed in, beaming. After some glances between themselves, the Avengers soon followed, Mycroft in the lead.
In the end, Loki hadn't sent them to a remote, private location where they could discuss their plans in peace. In fact, though he could hardly be blamed, he'd taken them to the least safe place they could possibly be right now.
Moriarty and Loki had somehow landed in the top floor of an empty apartment block in London at eight in the morning.
Moriarty hissed as he looked around.
'Well, now that we're here, I suppose,' he said, 'I have some business I should attend to.'
'What?' asked Loki, 'we need to get out of here! Those Avengers may be daft, but they'll be able to find us eventually.'
'Eventually, obviously, he said, 'But for now, I'm going to take advantage of that time. I have some… clients, you could say, to speak to.'
'Moriarty, if this is even slightly trivial…'
'Honey, relax, it'll be fine.'
Loki scowled. He wasn't used to Moriarty's casual way of talking, and he was almost certain he never would be.
'Fine. Who do you need to see?'
'That's not important. What is important, is that you should meet me at this address at four this afternoon,' said Moriarty, handing over a card with a handwritten address on it and a mobile phone, 'Keep yourself busy, would you? Call me if there's trouble.'
'Why on Earth would I need to call you?' asked Loki, but Moriarty had already walked out the door.
Keep yourself busy, thought Loki. Not in this city, where his face had been photographed at the moment he pulled Moriarty from the ruins of the explosion and spread all over the country.
He sighed. Perhaps there was some simple business to attend to in Jotunheim. After all, he was meant to be king of that particular realm.
Sherlock was angry.
Not angry in a traditional sense, but angry in a far more fundamental one. His deductions, and indeed his life's work, had hinged on his knowledge being correct, subject to only minor changes as his experiments, and science in general, advanced human knowledge.
The fact that he was currently standing in a room that was bigger on the inside, quite frankly, pissed him off.
Soon, his annoyance gave way to wonder as he looked around the room, taking in the absurdity and the alien nature of it.
Tony was particularly impressed. 'Jarvis would love to take a look at this,' he said, looking up at the ceiling.
Amidst other amazed expressions and the whitened grin of Jack Harkness, Mycroft sat at one of the seats around the console and said 'Doctor, the most convenient spot for us to go to right now would be London. Sherlock's flat is a prime location for setting out; we'll debrief in the Tardis, then go our separate ways from there.'
The Doctor looked astonished. 'Who are you,' asked the Doctor, 'how do you know who I am?'
'I've had my eye on Torchwood for a while now, Doctor,' said Mycroft, feeling vaguely put out by the lack of a more formal title he could call the Doctor by, 'And inevitably, that drew my attention to you.'
'Right, and, who are you?'
'Mycroft Holmes,' said Mycroft, extending a hand and shaking the Doctor's, 'I did hope you'd show up during our little initiative, particularly before any major event occurred.'
'Major event?' asked John, 'Major event? We just nearly took out a plane. People could have died, Mycroft.'
'Ooh, who's this? I think I like this one,' said the Doctor, looking at John and grinning.
'Captain Watson,' said Steve as Sherlock said 'Doctor Watson.'
They stared at each other. Sherlock glared.
'Right, well, let's all introduce ourselves, shall we? I'm the Doctor. I'm a time lord, a time traveller, and as Mycroft so kindly mentioned, I'm from Gallifrey.'
'I have heard of Gallifrey,' said Thor, 'though I had thought it lost, hidden from our sight.'
'And who are you?'
'Thor, Odin's son,' said Thor clearly, adjusting Mjolnir in his hand.
'The god, Thor?' asked Jack.
'Mortals believed me to be, yes,' said Thor.
'Thought there was something different about you,' said Jack, and winked at Thor.
Thor looked confused. 'I don't understand,' he said clearly, 'what are you referring to exactly?'
'Jack, leave Thor alone,' said the Doctor.
'I was just saying hello!'
'Yeah, of course. Everyone else?'
'Clint Barton,' said Clint, 'Hawkeye to some.'
'Sherlock?' asked the Doctor, 'I've met someone with your name. In 1895 of course, but he seemed a lot like you.'
Sherlock mentally shifted the man's age in his head, and decided that the police box he had initially been so infuriated by was probably a time machine as well, which only added to his irritation.
'Steve Rogers,' said Steve, holding out a hand. The Doctor shook it.
'I remember you too, you know. World War Two, wasn't it? What're you doing in the twenty first century?'
'I was frozen in time,' said Steve, 'I woke up a year ago.' His face and tone betrayed his emotion.
The Doctor's expression softened. 'I'm sorry.'
'Sam Winchester,' said Sam, also shaking the Doctor's hand, 'This is my brother, Dean.'
'Fainted from fright, did he?'
'Actually, that was my fault,' said Natasha, 'I stabbed him with a sedative about thirty minutes into the flight.'
The Doctor glanced at her.
'He was freaking out about demons.'
'In his defence, there was a demon on the plane,' said Mycroft.
The others turned to him, about half of them saying in unison 'WHAT!'
Mycroft sighed. 'I was about to tell you, when I heard a rather distinctive noise coming from the cabin that made my interference seem unnecessary.'
Thor hung his head slightly.
'Hey, wasn't your fault big guy,' said Tony, hitting Thor lightly in the shoulder, 'Loki froze the plane up first, it'd have crashed anyway.'
'You're Tony Stark, aren't you?' asked Jack.
'One and only,' said Tony, holding his arms out as if to show himself off.
'Got to say, I'm a big fan,' said Jack, grinning.
'Thrilled,' said Tony.
'What did I tell you?'
'I'm afraid I still don't understand,' said Thor.
'Thirty… eight…' came Dean's voice from where Natasha and Sam had left him on the ground.
'What is it, Dean?' asked Sam.
'Thirty… eight minutes… and thirty seconds…' said Dean, his voice coming back slowly, 'she said thirty minutes.'
'Dean Winchester, right?' asked Jack, helping lift him up to a standing position, 'You're taller than I expected.'
'Oh for God's sake!' yelled the Doctor, 'I'm taking you lot away from this guy now. What was Sherlock's address, Mycroft?'
'221B, Baker Street.'
'Now that's a coincidence, that's where Sherlock Holmes from 1895 lived. Hah. Allons-y!'
With that, the Doctor dashed around the console, pulling various levers and pressing buttons, at one point even hitting something with a hammer. Thor looked at the hammer as though it was a well-made toothpick.
With a huge shudder that nearly knocked everyone over and a loud succession of whirring noises, the Tardis had presumably landed.
'I've switched off the time circuits for the moment; wouldn't want to be landing you in the wrong time now would I?'
'I knew it was a time machine,' said Sherlock as John opened the door.
Light flooded in, and the first thing they could see was Baker Street, the door to 221B just to the right of the Tardis door.
'Right,' said Mycroft, 'I'm sorry, but I really must debrief you all. Obviously Loki and Moriarty are probably not in London, seeing as they know we were headed here. Presumably, we are expected to wait until there is more news of either Crowley from the angel Castiel, or from Scotland Yard of Loki or Moriarty.'
'Well, I'm off to a bar,' said Tony. He picked up his briefcase and walked out of the door.
'You can't just…'
'Can, and did,' said Tony, walking away, 'You've got my cell, call if you're out of your league.'
As Tony walked away, Mycroft sighed.
'Sherlock, I suggest you, John and Dean wait in your flat until either Lestrade or Castiel contacts you.'
'If it means news of my brother, I'd like to wait with them too,' said Thor, 'I won't cause any trouble.'
'As you wish,' replied Mycroft, 'Captain Jack, Captain Rogers; In order to have all our intelligence up to scratch, I will be visiting my room in the Diogenes club. Would you care to accompany me?'
Jack grinned and Steve nodded.
'What about us?' asked Natasha.
'I suggest that you three remain with the Doctor,' said Mycroft, looking at Sam, Clint and Natasha in turn, 'I could think of no better three to inform the Doctor of our current situation.'
All three of them nodded, though Sam looked slightly overwhelmed.
'Do I get a say in all of this?' asked the Doctor, 'I don't let just anyone travel with me, you know.'
'Of course you do,' said Mycroft, smiling at the Doctor, 'but these people aren't just anyone, and you'd be glad to hear them out.'
With that, Mycroft left the Tardis, Jack and Steve in tow.
'We'll talk to the Doctor,' said Clint, 'but in a less conspicuous street. Sherlock, Dean, John, Thor; make yourself comfortable in your flat. Call us if you hear anything.'
With that, the four assigned to the flat left the Tardis.
'Lestrade will call as soon as Moriarty or Loki are spotted,' said Sherlock, 'Shouldn't be long, even his team isn't that incompetent.'
'Hang on a second, dude,' said Dean, 'Cas'll be here any minute with intel on Crowley. Lestrade, whoever the hell he is, can wait.'
'I highly doubt that your angel will be able to locate the king of hell before the entirety of Scotland Yard is able to locate a mortal man.'
'Listen here, douche…'
'Alright, calm down!' said John, placing himself between Dean and Sherlock, 'We'll see what happens, alright? Let's just… try not to argue until then.'
John unlocked the door and led them upstairs.
'Have you got visitors over, Sherlock?' asked the tell-tale voice of Mrs Hudson as Thor and Dean shuffled in the door to Sherlock and John's flat.
'Just a couple, Mrs Hudson, shouldn't be here for long.'
'I'll make tea, John.'
'You don't have to, Mrs Hudson.'
'Just this once dear; I'm your landlady, not your housekeeper.'
Bloody Moriarty, thought Loki. Bloody freaking Moriarty. The guy agrees to meet you somewhere, then sends you a "text" on an infernal machine that Loki doesn't know how to use, meaning he is both unable to read the information he needed to and unable to contact the blasted man and yell at him for his insubordination.
Though if Loki was being honest with himself, he'd have to admit that he wasn't quite sure who the subordinate was here. They seemed to be fighting for the role of what he supposed would be called head villain, but neither was able to come out on top.
Loki smiled. At least there was that. Conversing with an equal. How his father ever thought Thor and himself equals he didn't understand.
The smile vanished when he remembered his predicament. He was standing outside a bookshop on a street in London at five past four in the afternoon, awaiting a notorious criminal wanted by the whole of Scotland Yard. He had no idea where he was; the car that had dropped him off had sped away long ago and he was beginning to get strange looks from the people at the café opposite. Clearly it wasn't common for people to loiter around bookshops.
It was only when Loki thought he saw Tony Stark's infernal Iron Man suit that he dove into the bookshop he'd been standing in front of to hide.
Loki entertained thoughts of killing Moriarty with his bare hands before convincing Crowley to bring him back from the dead again until it occurred to him he may as well find out where he was.
Actually, where was he?
Bernard Black was not a particularly observant man. Had Sherlock met him, it would probably be a total of fifteen minutes, tops, before Sherlock caved to his sociopathic tendencies and murdered him in cold blood as punishment for his boundless incompetence. Luckily, on this particular afternoon, Sherlock was not in the vicinity. Not that Bernard would have noticed this; in fact, less than five seconds ago a customer had burst through their front door and slammed it decidedly, and Bernard hadn't even looked up from his book. Come to think of it, he didn't even know what the book was about.
He went to take a sip of wine from his decidedly filthy glass when he discovered it was empty.
'Oi, Thor, wine!'
Bernard Black wasn't an observant man, but even he could tell that the entire front wall of bookshelves fell down less than a second after he uttered these words. He looked up to see what infernal customer had ruined his peace and quiet this time.
'Who are you, and what do you want?' asked Bernard at exactly the same time as the customer did so.
Odd, thought Bernard, that man is wearing a helmet and a cape and holding a sceptre. He must be part of a convention. No, a cult. No, worse, a religion. Or maybe he was just nuts. Hm. Nuts. Wonder if there are any almonds. They'd go great with the wine. The wine that Manny still hasn't brought down.
'Manny, get down here with wine, and tell me what this customer is doing here!'
The customer was still glaring at Bernard with a mixture of hatred and fear. Bernard was still staring at the customer with irritation and impatience.
'WINE!' yelled Bernard as the man raised the sceptre slowly.
'He's probably just here to buy a book,' said Manny, 'I've told you that Bernard. And here's your bloody wine.'
Manny walked into the store to hand the wine to Bernard (at which point, no doubt, he'd insist that Manny also had to pour the blasted stuff, the lazy sod) when he spotted the man at the fallen bookshelves.
Manny dropped the wine onto his sandal-covered foot and howled in pain as he said 'That's the bloke, you're the bloke they were talking about on the tv!'
'Manny, I've told you, that television rubbish is bad for you, now bring me the wine!'
Manny didn't move. Right in front of his eyes, the figure had vanished into thin air. He stood, staring at the air, waiting for his eyes to stop playing tricks on him. He vaguely wondered if Bernard had been slipping hallucinogens into his tea.
'Manny, if I have to ask for the wine one more time I will take your beard and…'
'Jesus, Bernard, wait up,' said Manny as he picked up the (thankfully unshattered) wine bottle and poured a generous measure. With any luck, and Manny knew he was pushing the limits of reality by suggesting that he have any luck at all, Bernard would be unconscious by the time the police arrived to investigate the matter.
Sherlock picked up the phone the moment it started vibrating.
'Sherlock, there's been a call. It's about that bloke on the telly, the guy with the helmet.'
Sherlock smirked at Dean over the coffee table that John had insisted remain between them at all times after their last minor debate. Dean glared.
'Bookshop on George Street; Black Books, heard of it?'
'Well, get over there, the guy who called us is delirious. His name's Manny, he works there and says he saw your helmet guy vanish into thin air in front of his eyes. Then there was something about wine, and books, and…'
'Yes, thank you Lestrade.'
Sherlock hung up and put his phone on the table. Thor smirked. Dean continued to glare over his tea. Tea that, no matter how many cups of it Mrs Hudson served him, he was simply not getting used to.
There was silence for a few seconds until Sherlock's pride broke through.
'I told y…'
'I said shut it, you dick.'
John frowned at Dean for the insult, then at Sherlock for the inevitable "actually-you-didn't" explanation that was trying to fight its way from his brain to his mouth. Thor sat there trying not to laugh at the pair of them, and John shared a sympathetic look with him.
'Look, it doesn't matter who called us, the point is someone's seen someone we're after,' said John, valiantly trying to diffuse the tension, 'we'll just get a cab, head over to this Black Books and try and figure out what the hell happened with Loki.'
Dean put his mug of cold, undrunk tea on the coffee table.
'And I'm sitting in the middle,' said John. As if he needed to clarify. None of them would make it to George Street alive if Sherlock and Dean were allowed to sit next to each other. And John wasn't taking any chances that Thor would be able to even fit in the back.
The door to 221B Baker Street was closed and locked, a cab was hailed, and the collection of Avengers clambered into the car.
'I'm telling you, he was there and he just vanished!' said the anguished, fat hairy imbecile that Sherlock was currently interviewing for details. John stood by him, making sure Sherlock's utter rudeness wasn't noticed by the man. Thor was examining the trace left by Loki at the bookshelves while Dean chatted to Lestrade, who was waiting by the door.
'Anything else?' asked Sherlock, examining the man. Worked about ninety hours a week, confused personality, essentially a servant. Extremely subservient. Easy to interview.
'Well, I only noticed him when I brought wine to Bernard, Bernard mustn't have noticed him.'
Sherlock looked almost baffled by the concept.
'He didn't notice a man dressed in a cape and an oversized helmet entering his own bookshop?' asked Sherlock.
'You don't know Bernard.'
John laughed. 'That's probably for the best.'
Unfortunately, whether it was for the best or not was quickly undermined by Bernard's sudden appearance in the room. If it could be called an appearance; he had merely stuck his face, eyes covered by sunglasses, through the curtain in order to more effectively sneer at the people in his bookshop.
'Manny, what are all the customers doing this time?'
Sherlock had been facing the front of the store, but he now turned to face this man as Bernard walked through the curtains and took up his customary seat at the desk. He poured himself a generous measure of wine and sat back, lighting a cigarette.
For the first time in his life, Sherlock was repelled by the smoke rather than drawn towards it. In fact, he wanted so little to do with the man he briefly considered quitting both smoking and nicotine patches altogether.
'They're not customers, they're police,' said Manny, 'they're here about the man who vanished earlier.'
'What man?' asked Bernard, before coughing his lungs out. Sherlock observed, and didn't like what he saw; alcoholic, unobservant, no intelligence to speak of, once a gambler, absolutely wretched. He'd met far more cunning subjects in his homeless network, including several who were under the influence of questionable substances on a rather regular basis.
'We're not exactly the police,' said John, 'We're more…'
'We're the Avengers,' said Dean, overhearing the conversation and wishing desperately to be a part of it, 'Hi, nice to meet you.'
Dean held out a hand and shook Manny's while Sherlock rolled his eyes at the dramatization. John had a hard time not rolling his own eyes.
'Yes, well,' said Manny, 'not much to say. I mean, we get some pretty weird customers in here, but not like him, usually. And he'd been on the telly and all that, so I figured I'd call in someone who knew…'
'Manny, get these people out,' said Bernard, waving his hands vaguely in the direction of the door, 'I'm hung over, I want to drink alone, not surrounded by all these people.'
Sherlock fixed Bernard with a hard, clear gaze, and almost started on one of his infamous deducing rants when John stopped him with a gesture.
'I think everyone knows what you're about to tell him, Sherlock,' said John. 'Maybe leave it this time.'
Sherlock frowned. He'd have continued, had there not been a far more interesting chase to be done. Loki had evidently made a mistake, and Sherlock was almost proud that his own personal archenemy had not been noticed by Scotland Yard before even a God was spotted.
Thor looked over at them after staring into the air for a time.
'I should return to Asgard,' said Thor, 'Simply to find out where Loki has gone. Heimdall is our best chance at relocating him; for all we know, he could be in another realm by now, and our searching is futile.'
'Oh, I don't think he'd have gone too far just yet,' said Sherlock.
'With respect, you don't know my brother.'
'We can't send you back until you have a way of getting to Earth again,' said John, 'I'm sorry Thor, but you'll have to wait for a bit longer.
Sherlock nodded. He quite simply couldn't wait to meet this supposed god. Thor turned and strode outside and stood leaning against the outside window, his silhouette showing against London's dull night sky.
'We could ask the Doctor to take him back to the Bifrost,' said John, 'Dean, give Sam a call, he'll come get Thor.'
'I could always just call Cas.'
'Yeah, well, we need to report to Clint, Sam and Natasha anyway, and they're with the Doctor. Besides, Cas is looking for Crowley, and every time you call him he probably has to start again.'
Dean nodded and pulled out his phone, highlighting Sam's number and pressing the call button. Sherlock smirked.
'Try not to be too… yourself, about Cas to Dean or Sam, ok?' John asked Sherlock.
'Well, it seems as though they've been through a lot.'
Dean hung up and said 'The Doctor'll be here in a few seconds or so.'
Manny had been chatting to Lestrade right up to the point where the tell-tale whirling noise of the Tardis echoed through the shop front. Bernard swore and put his arms over his ears in a comical way, trying to shield the noise from entering his mind.
'Lestrade, Loki is covering his tracks well, but we'll catch him, of course,' said Sherlock, 'Though this is something bigger than Moriarty.'
'Bigger than Moriarty?' asked Lestrade, dumbfounded.
'Oh, I'd say about three times Moriarty.'
Lestrade looked at Sherlock firmly, as though he were telling off a son. 'Sherlock, if you let Moriarty do what he did last time, none of us are ever going to forgive you.'
Sherlock nodded. John looked down awkwardly, and Dean (who was at that point chewing on a chocolate bar he'd found in his pocket) looked confused.
'What's this about?' he asked.
'Nothing,' said John, 'nothing at all.'
The Doctor waltzed through the door of Black Books, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Sam trailing behind him. Bernard was looking angrier, while Manny was just looking confused. Lestrade took their sudden appearance in stride.
'Hey, I've seen some of you guys on the news,' said Manny, 'you've all…'
'Nice to meet you, Manny, I'm the Doctor,' said the Doctor, holding out his hand and shaking Manny's enthusiastically, 'terribly sorry about the bookshelves and all that. Now, if you don't mind, we've all got to get going to… assess our evidence. So we'll be off.'
'The tall one makes sense!' said Bernard as he gulped down more wine. They all stared at him; the Doctor was shorter than both Sam and Sherlock.
'Well, allons-y,' he said, and they all walked out the door.
The door clanged shut gently behind them and Bernard coughed some more.
'Thank god they're gone,' said Bernard, 'I was beginning to think they'd never leave, and take all the wine with them.'
Manny shook his head. Clearly still drunk, he thought. But there wasn't much he could do.
'I thought they were interesting.'
'Shows what you know.'
Chapter 8: Revisions to the Plan(s)
The same evening that Sherlock, John, Dean and Thor spent in Black Books, Mycroft had taken Steve and Jack to the Diogenes club to both brief Jack on the mission. This, he thought, would be done far more efficiently in his own domain. He needed intelligence on Moriarty, he needed it quickly; he needed Jack to understand his modern terminology (a subject that Steve was trying valiantly to understand and not quite succeeding in) and he needed Steve to both keep Jack in line and, hopefully, to explain the Avengers to him in a way that was more exciting than the explanation Mycroft knew he'd give.
So, of course, Jack flirted with Steve almost the entire way to the club.
Mycroft was regretting sitting in the front of the car that Anthea had found for him almost as soon as he clicked his seat belt into place. Jack held the door open for Steve, who was a little confused as he stepped into the car. Jack slid into the car and shut the door.
'The Diogenes Club, if you don't mind, and rather quickly if it's at all possible.'
'So,' started Jack, and Mycroft understood why the Doctor had tried to cease Jack's talking, 'Captain America, huh?'
'Yeah,' said Steve.
'I remember you, actually. Can't remember much, I was in England most of the time, but people heard about you, you know.'
'You remember me?' asked Steve, 'And how is that, exactly? You look about thirty.'
'Hah. I'm older than you, Captain, but thanks for the compliment. You're not looking so bad yourself for seventy.'
Mycroft was finding it difficult to not put his hand up to his eyes in a mixture of embarrassment for all three of them and exasperation at Jack's antics.
Steve smiled. 'I miss it, to be honest,' he said, 'Not the war, but the people, the time; I just feel so… out of place here.'
'With you there,' said Jack, 'Born in the 41st Century myself. Got the hang of being out of my time, but it sure took a while.'
Steve stared at him.
'You were born in the 41st Century?'
'Born and raised.'
Steve snorted. 'Yeah, right.'
'You know that police box you travelled in? More than just a space hopper. It's a time machine; I've been from the 18th Century to the end of the world.'
'Do you… do you think he could take me back?' asked Steve, rather hopefully.
'Mr Rogers, for now, the mission is far more important than your personal affairs in 1945. Focus on it. After Loki and Moriarty, we will speak to the Doctor about the possibility of your relocation.'
Steve laughed. 'My relocation? Jumping through time, sure. That's one hell of a relocation.'
The car pulled up at the Diogenes Club shortly afterwards. Mycroft showed the two men through to his office, not bothering to instruct them to remain silent. Steve managed to, but Jack's comment of 'Looking good, fellas!' has gone down in history as the only sentence ever spoken in the club without reprimand or eviction.
'Captain Harkness,' said Mycroft as they entered his office, 'It would be… appreciated, if you were to at least tone down your frankly flirtatious behaviour.'
'Problem, Mycroft?' asked Jack as he and Steve sat at two of the armchairs in the office.
'If you would be so kind as to use it to our advantage against our enemies, rather than by confusing our own alliance.'
'Hang on, he's gay?' asked Steve.
'Bisexual, I was informed.' said Mycroft.
'I prefer to think of it as pansexual,' said Jack, 'got to remember the other species out there.'
'What, how… No, don't worry, that is way too much information,' said Steve, going slightly red.
Mycroft put the file for Moriarty, Loki and Crowley in front of Jack and pointedly stared at him until he started going through them. Jack flipped through the files.
'So where's the third guy?' asked Jack, indicating Crowley's file.
'That's why we're here,' said Mycroft, and with that, he sent off a text.
"Intelligence needed; Crowley. Include all historical records."
As a matter of fact, Crowley was sitting in a café in a quiet town on the west coast of the United States with Moriarty. Moriarty had found and spoken to his contacts while Loki was in Jotunheim. He was, in the end, going to be late to his meeting with Loki, as Crowley had found him and taken him to one of his favourite cafés, demanding some plans. Moriarty had had texted Loki as such; obviously he never read the text.
Though Moriarty supposed he probably should have taught the god how to do so.
'Your demons can possess anyone, then?' asked Moriarty, sipping at his bubble tea delicately.
'Anyone they need to,' said Crowley. He wasn't drinking. 'They tend to prefer attractive or powerful people; easier to get what they want.'
'And you went with the literary agent from New York?'
'I'm the king of hell,' said Crowley, holding out his arms, 'I can offer people whatever they want, for a price.'
'Style, Crowley. You could have worn a decent suit.'
'I could kill you in seconds, you know.'
'From what I hear, my living soul got you rather a good deal. Wouldn't want me dying on you now, would you?'
Moriarty checked his phone and noted that it was four thirty London time, and Loki was probably confused and lost at this point, though he realised that he could take care of himself quite easily.
'Need to call the boss?' asked Crowley.
Moriarty glared. 'I'd say we're all working together on this one,' he said, 'Do you mind?'
He picked up the phone and dialled the number of the phone he'd given to Loki. It took three attempts before finally, Loki apparently figured out how to answer.
'Moriarty, I was seen. I had to escape to some god awful town in who knows where.'
'Boring,' said Moriarty, 'We're at a café in the states. Join us.' Moriarty gave him the address.
'We're at a café? Who's we?'
'Crowley, of course. We're discussing the plan.'
'You two seem to have forgotten that this was my plan originally.'
'You should probably come to the planning meeting then,' said Moriarty, before hanging up. Less than five seconds later, Loki was sitting at their table in his coat and scarf combination, glaring at the pair of them.
'How did you get here?' Loki asked Crowley, positively spitting at him.
'Didn't you know? I can do that,' said Crowley, 'Took Jim here myself. Figured it was safer than London, what with you two showing off everywhere.'
'How about we leave this argument for now, my dears, and get to the fun part.'
'Sure thing,' said Crowley, 'Jim here was explaining something that sounds like fun.'
'What does it involve?'
'The government,' said Moriarty, 'several governments, actually. Though we really shouldn't be talking about this at a café.'
Loki looked around. The people there seemed stupid, harmless to him.
'You never know who might be watching,' said Moriarty.
'Come on,' said Crowley, 'I've got a house in Australia. It's safe, no one's heard about it; well, except Aziraphale, and he's not telling anyone. Come on.'
Crowley put a hand on each Moriarty's and Loki's shoulders and suddenly, they were in a comfortable, modern house, sitting at a bar in the air conditioning.
'Well, that went easier than expected. Wasn't sure about dragging you there, Loki. What can I get for you gentlemen?' asked Crowley, walking behind the bar and pulling down a glass. The other two remained silent.
'Nothing? Well, might as well enjoy some myself then,' said Crowley, pouring himself a glass of scotch and sitting at another bar stool. 'So, tell us the plan again?'
'We infiltrate several different government systems and replace some of the members with demons,' said Moriarty, 'The people won't be able to tell the difference, well not until it matters. We also engineer sightings of the Jotuns throughout the United Kingdom and China.'
'Engineer sightings?' asked Loki.
'They'll be actual sightings, obviously,' said Moriarty, 'but it'll be put down to hallucinogens in the water.'
'And what does that accomplish exactly?' asked Loki.
Moriarty looked exasperated at Loki's processing power. 'It means that no one will actually believe that the Jotuns are real. It'd hardly take two weeks before you could fill the planet with them without anyone believing they were real.'
Loki smiled. He was cottoning on. Crowley had been smiling from the start of his explanation.
'And the demons in government?'
'Will cancel any and all military action against the Jotuns as they take over, country by country.'
Loki's smile grew wider.
'And the plan of attack, should those Avengers guys get in the way?' asked Crowley.
'That's left up to you,' said Moriarty, 'I don't like getting my hands dirty.' As if to prove his point, he brushed his fingernails against his suit jacket.
'Sounds like a plan,' said Crowley, and he downed his scotch in one go.
Clint, Sam and Natasha were sitting around the console room in the Tardis, which had landed in a quiet field in Scotland and was staying there until the Doctor had everything explained to him. Natasha and Clint had been doing so for the past fifteen minutes, Sam interjecting with information about demons and Crowley every now and again.
'The Avengers?' asked the Doctor.
'Not a bad name,' said the Doctor, nodding. 'Though why the Avengers? Surely there's nothing to avenge?'
'Not yet,' said Clint, 'Aside from the terrified people on that plane and the people who were injured in the explosion at the London museum.'
The Doctor was quiet for a few moments.
'Look, Doctor, Thor knows his brother,' said Natasha, 'and he's going to try and take Midgard for himself. From what I've seen of Moriarty, he's worse, and he's made it back from the dead once already. As for Crowley…'
'Crowley's a demon, and he'll do what he can to get what he wants,' said Sam, 'believe me, he's done it before. And he's got every demon in hell to command.'
'Not to mention Moriarty's criminal web, and that's almost every criminal on the Earth.'
The Doctor sighed. 'I'm never going to finish saving you humans, am I?'
'To be fair, we've got a god on our side.' mentioned Sam.
'Ah, Thor, the Asgardian,' said the Doctor, 'never been there, heard it's quite nice though.'
'Well, will you help us, Doctor?' asked Clint, 'We're a team fighting a war against three extremely cunning villains who kill and destroy for amusement.'
The Doctor hesitated.
'I'm not a fan of guns.'
'Neither,' said Clint, plucking the string of his bow pointedly, 'but we use them when we need to. To save the Earth, in this instance.'
The Doctor sighed, before smiling grimly.
'Alright. What do you need me for?'
It was the morning after the planning, after Loki's sighting in Black Books, after the Doctor was convinced to help and Jack had been briefed on both the mission and some basic propriety, when Tony woke up in 221B, Baker Street. Clint and Sam were sitting on the couch, discussing something Tony wasn't quite able to understand in his hung over state. Dean was sitting at the table John used for his blogging, digging into something that Mrs Hudson must have made. John walked in from the kitchen, carrying a pot of tea, and noticed that Tony had finally opened his eyes.
'Well then,' said John, 'I'll go get the headache tablets.'
Tony put his hand to his forehead, partly to assess the damage and partly to shield his eyes from the meagre light in the room.
'Where's the suit?' asked Tony.
'Well, at least you've got your priorities in order,' came a disapproving voice from somewhere to his right. Tony turned his head and saw the vague outline of Mycroft, holding his helmet and one of his boots.
'Thanks,' said Tony, unable to muster up much more than that, 'Uh… where am I?'
'You're in Baker Street,' said John, 'The Doctor's taken Thor, Jack and Steve to Nick so they can introduce them and update Nick on the plan. Natasha and Sherlock are talking to Scotland Yard about Loki and Moriarty and what the public is going to be told.'
John passed over a couple of tablets and Tony swallowed them gratefully.
'So what did happen to you last night?'
Indeed it had been Tony Stark's suit that Loki had spotted down the road from Bernard's infamous shop. He needn't have worried though; due to the lack of alcohol on the plane, Tony's decision to find a bar had taken him to the best one he could possibly find.
Unsurprisingly, this was just down the road from Bernard's shop. In fact, it was why Bernard bought the shop in the first place; a rather redundant choice, as he'd realised that wine didn't actually have a taste, and therefore the cheaper, in his opinion, the better.
The reason Loki needn't have worried about Tony was because he had been drunk out of his skull on what was progressively more tasteless (but somehow more expensive) wine.
Bernard, to Manny's disappointment, had not managed to pass out drunk. He was, in fact, going over the finer points of why Manny was a slow, useless, soul-sucking, vomit-inducing arsewipe when Tony stumbled through the door. He was wearing his Iron Man suit, save for the helmet (which would have slowed the drinking process, obviously,) and for some odd reason, his left boot. Bernard looked up to see Tony fall over the books that Loki had knocked over earlier.
The only reason that Manny hadn't cleared it up was because it would slow the delivery of ethanol to Bernard's abused bloodstream.
'Oi, you!' yelled Bernard, his speech slurred, 'What're you doing in my shop!'
'Bernard, that's…' began Manny, but not before Tony answered him with 'Got any wine? Or beer? Or… anything, really?'
Bernard, against his better judgement, beckoned Tony over to his desk and poured him a miniscule measure of wine into a glass in which a family of spiders had spun a web. Manny retreated upstairs.
After examining the bottle through alcohol-fazed eyes, Tony said in as clear a voice as he possibly could 'This wine is garbage.'
'No it isn't! All wine is the same!' replied Bernard between gulps of the stuff.
Tony took a sip from his glass. 'It is good, ain't it?' he said, before keeling over backwards and passing out on the floor. He began snoring quietly.
'Bastard,' said Bernard loudly, before yelling out 'Manny! Manny, I can't find my bed! Where did it go!'
Manny sighed. Bernard was drinking with a passed out superhero in the bookshop.
He supposed it could have been worse.
Sherlock had found Tony shortly after four in the morning. Mycroft hadn't been pleased, as he'd been going through the continuous lists of sightings and knowledge of Crowley his intelligence force had sent him on his request. He'd been even less pleased with Sherlock also having to find the missing pieces to Tony's armour.
The Doctor hadn't been particularly happy with taking Tony back to Baker Street, but he knew well that every man had his vice, and Tony's appeared to be alcohol.
John hadn't been pleased to find a drunken Tony sleeping on the couch unannounced when he'd gone downstairs for his breakfast that morning, but quietly thanked whoever decided that it would be a passed out human, not another head in the fridge.
Finally, after the tablets had kicked in and Tony sat up, groaning, he said 'Right, not doing that again on this mission. What's happening?'
'Tell me, how the hell are you lot here?' asked Nick when Thor and Steve turned up at the hotel reception with a man in a trench coat and converse sneakers and another man Nick recognised as Jack Harness. Nick had heard an alert on his phone as they'd walked into the building; Maria Hill was working as a receptionist for the hotel for as long as Nick was staying there and was keeping him up to date as to who was coming and going.
'Sir, I'm as surprised as you are,' said Steve, 'Is the conference room still open?'
'Is everyone else with you?' asked Nick, looking around.
'No, sir, but we could collect them in minutes if we had to.'
Nick took in the sight of them and their utterly inexplicable presence before shaking his head in exasperation.
'You'd better have a good explanation for all this, you two.'
Chapter 9: Disbelief Leads to General Blundering
Coulson walked into the conference room. Bruce had already made it. Nick was sitting down at the conference table, his head in his hands as Thor explained… whatever he needed to explain to him. Two men he didn't know were at the table.
He resisted clapping his hands together and squealing with delight upon seeing that Steve had also returned.
'Ah, Agent Coulson,' said Nick, 'Sit down, join us.'
Coulson sat down and looked at everyone eagerly.
'So, Captain Rogers, would you care to tell Agent Coulson here how you managed to hitch a lift with a time travelling alien and invited him into our initiative at the same time?'
'With respect, sir, I was following Mycroft's orders,' said Steve.
Nick shook his head slowly. 'Right. Well, go on. Let Coulson know.'
Steve turned to Coulson, but his jaw was already open with surprise. He looked at one of the two men he didn't know, who waved at him, his hand holding what looked like a short metal light-up stick in the air. He looked at the other man, who grinned charmingly.
'A time machine?'
'Well, time and space,' said the Doctor.
'That's how we managed to arrive here so swiftly,' said Thor.
'Hang on, which one of you's the alien?'
'That'd be me,' said the Doctor, raising his hand, 'Nice to meet you, I'm the Doctor.'
'Captain Jack Harkness.'
'Not now, Jack!'
'Stop it, you two,' said Nick, 'This is serious.'
'Look, we're not trying to "intervene" or anything,' said Jack, 'We're happy to help you Avengers guys. We'll just be the wheels and the charm.'
'I'm the wheels?' asked the Doctor.
'Doctor, this is war, and you've got a sonic screwdriver, or whatever it was,' said Nick, 'You said yourself you don't like fighting.'
'I like giving people a second chance.'
'Well, these guys like killing cause it's fun, so I think we're a bit past that,' Nick reminded him, 'Jack, you're good with guns, you should join the fighting team. I hate to admit it, but your weapons technology seems far beyond SHIELD's.'
'Well, most of it's not ours,' said Jack, 'It's alien technology.'
'Alien technology?' asked Bruce, 'Would you… would you mind if I took a look at it?'
'Sure,' said Jack, 'Take this one.' He pulled a gun out of his pocket and threw it at Bruce, who caught it cleverly and examined it carefully.
'What do you want us to do?' asked the Doctor.
'Until the fighting inevitably starts?' asked Nick, 'You could help us out finding out where the hell these guys are. But in the meantime, I think we need Tony back here, he knows weapons technology better than anyone else on the planet.'
'Does he now?' asked Jack, 'I'll have to check that one.'
'That doesn't seem like the wisest idea,' said Thor, but Jack was already walking out the door.
Nick pointed at the Doctor, then pointed where Jack had gone. 'Keep that one in line,' said Nick, 'He seems like trouble.'
'Yeah, but he's good trouble,' said the Doctor, before pausing. 'I'll watch him.'
The Doctor walked out the door, saying 'Steve, Thor, you coming?'
They both turned to look at Nick, who threw up his hands. 'Go ahead, go back to England; just remember, when the fighting starts, we need you where the action is. Got it?'
They nodded, before following the Doctor out the door.
Coulson watched them leave.
'Damn,' he said, 'I forgot to get his autograph.'
Nick chuckled. 'You can get the autograph when this Doctor guy drops Tony off,' he said, 'Interesting weapon, Bruce?'
'Very,' said Bruce, turning the gun over in his hands, 'is there somewhere for me to work?'
'I took the liberty of installing a lab upstairs; take the lift to the next floor up, first door on the left.'
Bruce thanked him and left.
Nick turned to Coulson and just said 'An alien. A god, an alien and a super-soldier walked into a time machine…'
Coulson laughed, but he wasn't paying too much attention. He was still trying to decide what Captain America poster to get Steve to sign.
'DI Lestrade, we need the truth kept quiet on this one,' said Natasha.
Lestrade wasn't listening. He was sitting at his desk in New Scotland Yard's offices, his head in his hands.
'Aliens? Demons? You're… you're Mr Deduction himself, and you actually believe all of this?'
Sherlock grimaced at the nickname. 'I can tell when people are lying to me, Lestrade, and this is the truth. Leaving aside the plane crash, which obviously provides solid evidence for the existence of instantaneous matter transportation at the very least, it is the truth that we're working against what logic seemingly wouldn't permit.'
'Moriarty was dead!'
Sherlock sighed and pulled his coat from the wall.
'You're in shock, Lestrade. You know well enough I detest repeating myself; ensure the truth doesn't leave this office, 221B Baker street or the travelling phone booth so aptly named the Tardis.' Sherlock motioned for Natasha to follow him out of the office, and she was all too glad to obey in this case.'
'Sherlock, you owe me for this!'
'I'll solve one case for you,' Sherlock called out over his shoulder.
'One case? That's all?'
'Better save it for something important then.'
Sherlock and Natasha disappeared from view. Lestrade contemplated all the possible excuses he could use in order to get the rest of the day, preferably the rest of the week off.
Telling the truth might work; they'd think he'd gone mad and send him off to be tested.
Instead, Gregory Lestrade sighed, put his head down and planned how on Earth he was going to keep this whole escapade a secret.
As Sherlock and Natasha walked through the doors of 221B Baker Street, Dean's phone began to ring. Natasha sat down at the desk opposite Clint. Tony was sitting at the couch, Dean and Sam were at the kitchen table, and Sherlock positioned himself at one end of the same table, pulling his microscope towards him. Dean picked up his phone.
'Dean, it's Bobby, where the hell are you two?'
'… Holy shit. Sam!'
'What, Dean?' asked Sam from the other side of the room.
'We forgot to tell Bobby.'
'I'm sorry, Bobby?' asked John.
'He's like our stepfather,' said Sam, 'He's a hunter too, he helps us out a lot.'
'Bobby, we're… we're in England,' started Dean.
'England?' asked Bobby, 'What the hell are you doing there?'
'Look, Bobby, Crowley's teamed up with two creeps named Moriarty and Loki, and it's going to end up as a whole new apocalypse if we don't help these Avenger guys out with the demons.'
'Hold up,' said Bobby, 'Moriarty I've never heard of, but Loki? Isn't that Gabriel's alter-ego?'
Dean paused, phone slightly away from his head.
'Good point,' said Dean, 'Hey Sammy, Loki couldn't be Gabriel, could he?'
'What?' asked Sam, 'Dean, he's dead.'
'What, he's dead because he said so in a home-made porno?' asked Dean, 'For all we know this is him!'
'Look,' said John, 'Thor grew up with Loki. He knew him as a kid. Gabriel couldn't have been a kid in Asgard and an angel on Earth, could he?'
Dean frowned. 'Not him, Bobby, he's gone.'
'Avenger guys? England?'
'Bunch of super-dudes, basically,' said Dean, 'And Moriarty and Loki've been all over London. Some weird as hell bookshop and a museum.'
Bobby whistled. 'You sure demons are involved?'
'Considering this Moriarty guy was dead when Crowley pulled him out of hell for Loki, I'd say so.'
'Could it have just been a regular deal?'
'Castiel says a thousand souls were traded for the one dude,' said Dean, 'no way Crowley's not all over this.'
'Look, Dean, I can't help you out with this,' said Bobby, 'I mean, demons, sure, but Loki? He's a Norse God, we hardly know anything about him. And Moriarty? Hell, he's human! Why's he even in league with the big guys?'
'If you'll excuse me,' said Sherlock, taking the phone from Dean, 'Moriarty is more than a man.'
'Dude, do you have bat's ears or something?' asked Dean, as Bobby said down the line 'Who the hell are you?'
'Sherlock Holmes,' said Sherlock, 'Also part of these "Avenger guys" as Dean so crudely put it. Moriarty is more than capable of collaborating with Loki and Crowley.'
'How would you know?'
'Moriarty convinced the world I was a fraud after breaking into three of the highest security locations in Britain,' said Sherlock, 'Loki and Crowley may have armies, but Moriarty will set them to strike exactly where they need to.'
'Whatever you say, Holmes,' said Bobby, 'Put Dean back on the phone would you?'
Sherlock wordlessly passed over the phone to Dean.
'Anyway, I was calling to talk about the civil war in heaven.'
'Oh, as if we don't have enough to deal with already,' said Dean, 'I don't know, Bobby, we're a bit out of the loop. Cas's been looking for Crowley while he's dealing with Raphael.'
'You boys have got your work cut out for you, huh?'
'I know, Bobby, trust me, I know.'
'Well… call me when you're back in the States,' said Bobby, 'Or if there are any demons to sort out.'
The phone beeped and Dean slipped it back in his pocket.
'Trouble?' asked John.
'Oh, there's a civil war on in heaven,' said Dean, 'But aside from that? No, not really.'
'Civil war in heaven?' asked Clint, 'Really?'
'Since God ran away and we minced the devil, yeah,' said Dean, 'Apocalypse versus non-apocalypse, Raphael versus Castiel. The whole deal.'
'After this is over, maybe we could help,' said John.
Sam and Dean laughed. 'No offence, Johnny boy, but even we can't help. These guys, they're angels, gods.'
'In which case I believe you could ask Thor,' said Sherlock, adjusting the microscope he was peering through.
Everyone looked at Sherlock, astounded.
'He's got a point, Dean,' said Sam.
'We'll ask, alright?' said Dean, 'What are you even doing?'
'Experiments,' said John, 'Just leave him to it.'
'I believe Sherlock is correct,' said Thor, striding into the room, Steve following closely, 'Tony, Fury wishes you to assist Banner in his experiments on alien technology supplied by Captain Jack.'
'Weapons tech?' asked Tony, 'Well, that's a blast from the past alright. What're we doing?'
'Just examining it,' said Steve, 'If you can make it more effective, incorporate demons, whatever you can handle.'
'I'm sure I can handle it,' said Tony.
'Well, the Doctor's waiting outside,' said Steve, 'better hurry up before he takes off.'
Tony yawned, clutched his head, and looked at John. 'Thanks for the painkillers, Watson.' He nodded, then shuffled down the stairs.
'Oh, this is going to be interesting,' said Sherlock, smirking.
'What is?' asked John.
'Classic case of superiority complex, both Stark and Harkness,' said Sherlock, 'the Doctor's going to have his work cut out for him.'
Sherlock's phone rang.
'Who is it?' asked John.
'Lestrade,' said Sherlock, glancing at the screen, 'He may have cracked already.'
John snatched the phone from Sherlock and answered.
'John. Tell Sherlock that if he's still alive by the end of this, I'll kill him myself.'
'There's been sightings of bluish-grey giants in one town in Scotland and a few across China,' said Lestrade, 'Your brother's been forwarding this to me, by the way, he thinks I'm your public communications guy or something.'
John chuckled. Luckily, Mycroft couldn't hear this as he had previously headed back to the Diogenes Club, claiming that the silence helped him to think.
'Do any of you know about blue-grey giants?' asked John, switching the phone to loudspeaker.
'Frost giants,' said Thor, 'They must be.' He took the phone from John.
'The blue creatures are called Frost Giants,' said Thor altogether too loudly into the phone, 'They are not of this realm. Loki must be assembling them in order to fight his war.'
'Who is this?'
'Thor, son of Odin.'
You could almost hear Lestrade thumping his head against the wall on the other end of the phone.
'Thor, right. As if giants and Moriarty and demons weren't enough. So what's the plan?'
Everyone around glanced at each other.
'We can't afford to have people panicking already,' said Clint, 'it seems as though that's what Loki would want.'
'So, what do we say?'
'Hallucinations?' offered Sam.
'Plausible,' said John, 'Something got in the water, people started to hallucinate. You could attribute it to a criminal organisation to take the focus off the actual giants.'
Sherlock had abandoned his microscope.
'Something isn't quite right,' he said, his eyes staring directly in front of him, 'Something's wrong.'
'Well, whatever's wrong, Sherlock, you can call me and tell me about it when you figure it out. For now, I'll go with… whose plan was it?'
'Hawkeye's,' said Clint.
'Delightful,' said Lestrade, 'Get on with it, Avengers.'
The phone went silent. Everyone returned to their arguments and their tea.
Moriarty grinned as his phone went off and informed him that there had been water poisoning in both Scotland and China, and that these were targets of an international criminal organisation, and that anyone experiencing hallucinations was urged not to panic.
'Gentlemen,' said Moriarty, clinking his wine glass against Loki's and Crowley's in turn, 'Success seems to be ours.'
They grinned as they sipped their wine, anxious for their plans to unravel.
Chapter 10: In Which Loki Cracks
Tony stepped into the unlocked Tardis and glanced at Jack immediately. Jack grinned.
Both were trying to calculate exactly how much they needed to piss the other off before they'd "won."
'So, weapons tech expert, are you?' asked Jack as Tony sauntered up to the console.
'That seems to be the global consensus, yeah.' said Tony. He lifted his suit-suitcase to indicate that he was still carrying the suit.
'Well, Tony, Jack we'll be off to Washington then,' said the Doctor, dashing around the console.
'Your technology can't have anything on alien tech though, Stark,' said Jack, 'Advanced weaponry seems to be coming from the future, from other species, not from Earth.'
'This suit could handle anything your outer space guns could throw at it.'
'Put the suit on then, I think I've got just the thing for it.'
'Oh, I'm sure you do.'
'No guns in the Tardis!' yelled the Doctor as the Tardis whirred into life.
'It's not technically a gun,' said Tony.
'It's a weapon, and the Tardis won't like it if you break her,' said the Doctor.
'You talk about this box like it's alive.'
Jack coughed. 'Actually, it is.'
Tony looked around again, as if he were expecting to discover the Tardis walk out of the walls and talk to him.
'Really?' asked Tony sarcastically.
'Tardises are grown, not made,' said the Doctor, 'I've had companions stare into the heart of the Tardis… and trust me, you don't want to do that.'
Tony held up his hands to accept the Doctor's terms, and with a distinctive thud, the Tardis landed. Jack walked over to the door and opened it, holding it out for the others to leave through.
'After you,' he said.
'Why thanks,' said Tony, walking directly into Banner's laboratory.
'Hello, guys,' said Bruce, walking between tables and examining various weapons, 'Director Fury asked if I could build a weapon modelled on the one Captain Jack gave me with addition settings for demons, but I'm not entirely sure it's possible.'
'You call this a lab?' asked the Doctor, as Tony and Jack shook Bruce's hand 'This isn't a lab, this is a…' he picked up a microscope sitting on the table and examined it from the underside, 'This is a playground.'
'This is the best they could come up with,' said Nick, walking into the room, 'This is a hotel, after all, not a science lab.'
'This'll never work, not for the technology you're looking at,' said Jack, 'Doctor, there's got to be a lab somewhere in the Tardis.'
'Yeah, first left, second right, past the bookshelf, under the fuzzy purple thing and its third on the left,' said the Doctor, indicating the directions as he said them.
'Wait, that thing, has a lab?' asked Tony, 'I have got to see this.' He walked straight back into the Tardis.
Nick shook his head. Jack shrugged and went back inside.
'You know what?' said the Doctor, 'all aboard. It's ridiculous having you all over the place, and she's got plenty of room.'
'I really don't think it's a good idea for me to go in there,' said Bruce, 'If I can't stop the other guy, your time machine might not come out of it intact.'
'Bruce,' said the Doctor seriously, 'I promise you, if you start stressing, she'll find a room you can escape to, just like that.'
'Are you sure about this, Doctor?'
'I still don't think this is a good idea,' he said, walking into the Tardis. His jaw fell open in surprise as he looked around the console room.
'Knew you'd like it,' said the Doctor, grinning, 'Jack, take Bruce to the lab, would you? And check Tony hasn't gotten lost.'
Jack saluted the Doctor and walked off as Tony yelled 'I'm not lost!' from the maze of corridors.
Nick stepped into the Tardis last, and looked around. He whistled. 'Nice time machine, Doctor.'
'Ready to go?' asked the Doctor.
'Not just yet; COULSON!'
Agent Coulson dashed into the Tardis with what looked like a rolled up poster under his arm. He stopped in his tracks as he noticed where he'd walked into.
'Now we're ready,' said Nick, and the Doctor flicked a lever on the console. 'Next stop, 221B Baker street!' he yelled, and the Tardis lurched into motion again.
Rather suddenly at Baker Street, two things happened only a second apart from each other.
Firstly, Clint, Sherlock, John and Natasha jumped where they were sitting or standing as Castiel appeared in the room. Within half a second, Clint had an arrow nocked and Natasha was standing in an attack pose with a knife in her right hand. John and Sherlock had both managed to avoid spilling their tea.
'Guys, relax, it's Cas,' said Dean, 'Tell us the news.'
Clint and Natasha lowered their weapons.
'Crowley is further behind on his paperwork than he has been in over a century.
There was a pause as the Avengers in the room digested this information.
Sherlock chuckled. 'That's all you've got?'
Castiel turned to Sherlock and stared at him straight in the eye. 'Crowley has been consistently behind on his work for thousands of years, but never has he openly neglected it. It is believed he is no longer occupying hell on a regular basis.
'Which means, what, exactly?' asked John.
'Crowley is on Earth, hiding. We've tried narrowing down his location. It appears he is not in either the United States or the United Kingdom. I've tried searching for traces of him in China, as the grey monsters were seen there…'
'Frost giants,' said Thor.
'The frost giants, then,' said Castiel, 'But I have been unable to locate him.'
'What, so he's hiding in some small town somewhere? We'll go find him.'
'You don't have the time, Dean. None of you do.' Castiel looked around at the assembled Avengers. 'I will continue to hunt for Crowley, but I suggest you prepare yourselves.'
'Prepare ourselves for what?'
'War,' said Castiel and Thor at the same time. They looked at each other, and Thor continued. 'I don't know how, but if Loki has the frost giants on his side they will fight for him, and he will use them to his advantage.'
'The war in heaven will be meaningless if this war is lost,' said Castiel.
'This being the war in heaven that, as I mentioned previously, Thor would be able to help you with?' asked Sherlock.
Castiel looked at Thor intently. 'You are of Asgard, yes?'
'Then I could indeed use your help,' said Castiel, 'Though I would of course offer what help I could in return.'
'All I ask is that you try to find Loki,' said Thor, 'That will suffice. After this war has been won, I will recruit some friends of mine to help you fight your war in heaven.'
Castiel nodded in thanks.
Now, the other event that happened about a second after Castiel's appearance was that Mycroft, on his way back from the Diogenes Club, umbrella in hand (though the weather was perfectly clear for once) when the Tardis began appearing directly in front of him, so suddenly he nearly walked into the appearing structure. He was less than ten metres from the front door of 221B Baker Street.
Mycroft walked around to the front of the Tardis, which he recognised from the sign on the door (It was at this point that Mycroft wondered why on Earth the Doctor pushed the door to the Tardis open when the sign quite clearly stated "Pull to Open").
Jack sprang out of the Tardis and ran straight into Mycroft, nearly knocking him over. 'Sorry, Mycroft,' he said as he dashed upstairs to fetch the others.
'Watch out for the man, would you?'
Jack grinned and walked into 221B.
'Sorry about that, Mycroft,' said the Doctor as Mycroft straightened his suit, 'He gets a bit… excited.'
'You're setting me up for these, Doctor!' yelled Jack from halfway up the stairs.
'Welcome aboard the Tardis,' said the Doctor to Mycroft, before following Jack up the stairs.
'So, guys, what's happening?' asked Jack as he and the Doctor walked into the room, 'and who's that guy?'
Jack pointed at Castiel, who turned to look at him.
'You are an immortal,' said Castiel, 'For a time, the angels watched you. You did not try for power as well as immortality, so we ceased our observations.'
'Huh?' asked Jack.
'My name is Castiel,' said Cas, 'Though Dean and Sam here seem to prefer the term "Cas."' Dean nodded approvingly. 'I was just discussing the civil war in heaven with Thor.'
'Castiel?' asked the Doctor.
'Doctor,' said Castiel, 'Another immortal. Gallifrey, if I'm not mistaken?'
'Nope, no, you're right,' said the Doctor, a huge grin plastering his face 'It's a pleasure to meet you, actually, Castiel, I've heard of you. Well, not yet, but I've heard of future you.'
'As I have heard of you… Future me?'
'Well, you know… time machine.'
Castiel nodded. 'I suppose this means you know the outcome of the war in heaven.'
The Doctor tilted his head from side to side before saying, 'I'd love to tell you, really I would, but…'
'It's never a wise idea to know too much about one's own future,' finished Cas.
'Something like that.'
'Well, come on, everyone!' said the Doctor, 'Figured you Avengers needed a team base, and the Tardis seems perfect for it. Come on!'
The Avengers looked at each other in surprise.
'Doctor, is there even room on that thing?'
The Doctor rolled his eyes in exasperation. 'Course there is, now get a move on!'
'Alright, I'll lock the doors,' said John, ever the practical one. The others clambered out the door, chatting about hell and heaven and Loki and for some reason cucumbers, while John waited for them to leave.
'What about you, Cas?' asked Dean, 'You coming, or you going to search out Crowley still?'
'I'll report back to you soon,' said Cas, 'But for now, I'll go after Crowley.'
'Good luck,' said Sam and John at the same time as Castiel vanished. They walked out the door, and John locked it behind them.
'Mrs Hudson!' called Sherlock from the bottom of the stairs.
'What, dear?' asked Mrs Hudson, opening the front door of her own apartment a fraction.
'John and I won't be here for a while,' said Sherlock, tying up his scarf, 'We've got… a case, I suppose.'
'Well, you two, don't be gone for too long!' said Mrs Hudson.
'It's a time machine,' said Dean loudly, 'they could be back in, like, an hour.'
John frowned at him, but it was too late. Mrs Hudson shook her head in exasperation and closed the door, and the rest of them piled out onto the street and into the Tardis.
The team had chosen their base. All that was left was for Loki, Moriarty and Crowley to stop hiding in theirs.
Loki was pacing backwards and forwards in the main lounge room of Crowley's hidden Australian house. Moriarty and Crowley were sitting at the couch, sharing tales of torture and general cruelty. This was ridiculous, he thought. He'd been here for almost a week. The Avengers were surely getting impatient with their total lack of action. So what, he'd let a couple of frost giants run rampage in a couple of countries. He was fed up with the waiting for the public to dismiss it. He was tired of it.
Finally, it was enough. Loki groaned loudly before vanishing into thin air, his sceptre flashing as he departed.
Moriarty and Crowley looked up.
'I was wondering when he'd do that,' said Crowley, taking a sip of his coffee.
'I was planning for it,' said Moriarty, drinking his tea and smirking. Crowley laughed and flicked on the television, at which point Moriarty picked up a book and started to read.
Loki landed, looked around, vanished and recalculated his position. He landed again, right in the middle of Times Square. The crowd hardly noticed him, as he'd appeared in plain clothes with no distinctive noise or light.
Loki smirked. He could change that alright. His green cape, horns and leather outfit shimmered into view around him. His sceptre appeared in his hand, and his voice bellowed out around the Square. Multiple versions of himself appeared around the square, for the sole purpose of threatening those who dared run.
Loki grinned. Somehow (later he would realise that this was down to Moriarty's careful, international-landmark-wide planning) a camera focused on him and projected his image onto every television screen in the vicinity.
'I am Loki,' he said, grinning what he deemed his most evil grin, 'I will rule your world, and not a single one of you pathetic mortals will be able to stop me.'
The screaming rose. As a citizen approached one of his copies to attempt to disarm him, the copy simply raised his sceptre and tossed the man ten metres away. He landed with a thump.
'Hear me out, people of the world; your end is approaching,' said Loki, 'Do not try and stop me.'
He vanished again, leaving a terrified crowd behind. All over the globe, secret services and intelligence organisations were flooded with memos and begin formulating strategies to deal with the unknown man. A while after this, the governments across the world were informed that something went down in New York, and they'd probably better do something stat before god knows what happened.
Loki returned to Crowley's house, landing in his full Asgardian-get up beside the television.
'Bit of cabin fever?' asked Crowley.
'You could say that,' said Loki, before he left the room, presumably to throw more darts into the wall.
'Could've been worse,' said Crowley.
'I suppose,' said Moriarty, 'But at least there's one thing.'
'Well, I have a strange feeling that no one's going to the number of demons we currently have in various parliaments.'
Crowley grinned. All that remained was the actual battle. And if everything went according to plan, the only ones able to defend against it would be the Avengers themselves.
Loki never did tell anyone where he'd landed the first time. But suffice it to say, there were some very confused polar bears at the Singapore Zoo that evening.
Chapter 11: Time to Move
The Doctor had realised that this "invite-everyone-to-live-in-the-Tardis" thing probably wasn't the best idea.
I mean, sure. The Tardis was designed for this sort of thing, really; to carry multiple people in comfort. It's just that the Doctor had been on his own for a while, and was finding it difficult to adjust to having fifteen people living in the Tardis, especially seeing as only two of them (Jack and himself) actually knew their way around it. The Doctor put his decision to invite them in down to his loneliness; this was compensating for it.
As the Doctor heard John's shout of 'Sherlock, stay away from the console!' followed almost immediately by 'Tony, for god's sake get Jarvis to STOP TRYING TO TALK TO THE TARDIS!' that he realised he may be overcompensating for his initial loneliness.
The Doctor was sitting in the console room. Though most of the others were in the kitchen, where there was a sizeable table and a seemingly never ending supply of tea, coffee and biscuits, he was kept company by Natasha reading quietly in the corner, Steve waiting rather impatiently for some news of Loki on one of the console chairs, and Coulson sitting next to him, occasionally managing to engage the super soldier in conversation. The only person who was in neither the kitchen nor the console room was Mycroft, who was wandering around the library.
Quite suddenly, the Tardis console beeped. The Doctor jumped up, skipped around the edge of the console and moved the display screen so that he could see it.
'What is it, Doctor?' asked Steve, standing up to look at the screen.
'Loki,' said the Doctor, 'it's Loki. He's been seen in New York.'
Loki's image shifted onto the screen, against the background of Times Square, Gallifreyan writing covering the edges of the screen.
'He seems to have given a speech about ruling the planet,' said the Doctor, reading the writing, 'hold on, what?'
'What is it?' asked Coulson, showing almost as much interest in Loki's movements as he was in his childhood hero.
'He didn't hurt anyone, just showed up, threw someone, and left.'
Natasha spoke then. 'He must've been bored.'
'What?' asked the Doctor.
'Well, they've only released a few Jotuns,' said Natasha, 'It's not as if Loki's been experiencing the dramatic take over he was after. He was probably sick of hiding.'
'We need to get to New York,' said the Doctor, 'Jack!'
'What!' came Jack's yell from the kitchen. For convenience, the Tardis had shifted the room to the corridor just off the console room.
'Sure enough, boss!' yelled Jack, and within a few seconds he was walking into the console room.
Apparently, this query for help meant that every Avenger decided his help was required and walked into the room as well.
'Ok, everyone,' said the Doctor, 'New York, here we come!'
'New York?' asked Sherlock, 'Why New York?'
'Loki's been spotted.'
'What?' asked Thor.
Bruce lowered his glasses and peered at the screen. 'He wasn't being half as menacing as he's capable of being,' he said, 'it's not like him.'
'I don't get it either,' said Tony, 'but we'd better suit up.'
'Suit up?' asked the Doctor, 'Oh no. You're not going anywhere, Tony. You and Banner are staying here.'
'What, and miss out on the action?'
'Well, there's probably not going to be any action,' said Sam, 'He's not there anymore, there's not even any damage, just a lot of witnesses to interview.'
'Stay here,' said Nick with authority, 'You're meant to be developing weapons that could disable both frost giants and demons, and all you've done so far is drink coffee and eat blueberries.'
'To be fair, all I'VE been doing is eating blueberries,' said Tony, 'Banner boy here's been in the lab every ten seconds to check his results.'
Though Bruce seemed embarrassed, he nodded. 'It's not easy, combining their weaknesses. Holy water's out, of course; any sort of water would give the Jotuns an advantage. We could use salt, but it's not as effective as we'd hoped.'
'Well, that means you've got some work to do,' said Nick, 'you're staying here.'
'I'll get back to the lab, then,' said Bruce, nodding and walking out.
With an exaggerated eye roll, Tony followed him, calling out 'Oi, rage guy, wait up!'
The moment they'd left, John turned to the Nick.
'Is it really the smartest idea, leaving a man we're trying not to provoke with the most provocative man in the team?'
'They've got more on common than you'd think,' said Mycroft, walking into the room, 'Both with a significant background in scientific experimentation, both with a direct link to Captain Rogers and his promotion to Captain America. I'm sure they'll have plenty to discuss that won't endanger either the Tardis or their own personal safety.'
While everyone was chatting, they had failed to notice the Doctor and Jack dashing around the console, pulling levers and switching buttons until it lurched and hummed as it arrived at its destination. Everyone fell silent as the Doctor turned to look at everyone.
'Pay attention,' he said, mostly in jest, 'Out we go.'
Mycroft opened the door, and the Avengers piled out, Thor in the lead.
They'd landed in a street just off Times Square. The Doctor had assumed that there would be general panic if a second example of alien life landed in the same place again.
There was still police tape around the edges of the square, the man who'd been thrown by Loki and several others besides were still detained in the middle. Several were covered by shock blankets. The police were frankly loitering; there was absolutely no evidence on the scene, and there was nothing they could do to assure the public that everything was under control.
'We can't all get through the police tape,' said Clint, 'only Natasha and I have any ID that would pass.'
Dean, Sam, the Doctor and Sherlock immediately started rummaging in their pockets.
'Sherlock, you can't get into an American crime scene with Lestrade's ID.'
'It's worth trying,' said Sherlock, 'statistically the police aren't likely to glance at the card, they're far more likely to…'
'You've got a fake ID?' asked Dean, his voice heavy with sarcasm.
'I can assure you it's perfectly real.'
'Yes, it's just not his,' said John, 'You two have fake IDs, then?'
'In our line of work, they're useful, I can tell you,' said Dean, 'Doctor, what the hell is that?'
'Psychic paper,' said the Doctor again, 'It shows them whatever I want them to see. Here.' He passed the paper to Sherlock.
'It's blank,' he said definitively.
'No it isn't,' said Dean, 'It says he's an FBI agent, it's the same ID as Sam's and mine.'
'Have you spoken to an optometrist lately, Dean?'
'Sherlock, leave him alone,' said the Doctor, 'It doesn't work on people like him, they see straight through it.'
This, of course, was met with a chorus of requests to see the paper. Oddly enough, Mycroft and Natasha were the two others who were unable to see what the Doctor was projecting onto it.
Natasha and Clint pulled out their SHIELD ID cards.
'So what, you just leave the rest of us behind?' said Steve
Jack looked at everyone. 'They'll let us in,' he said the moment his eyes crossed Steve, who was still in his Captain America uniform, 'They're either going to think we're a freak show or UNIT. Besides, let's face it, it's not like they could argue with us.' Jack flashed his most winning smile.
They looked around. Nick shrugged.
'We'll be fine,' said Mycroft, and the thirteen of them headed for the police tape.
Castiel watched the villains silently.
They were sleeping, to give them credit. Loki and Moriarty seemed particularly restless. Crowley was sleeping like a log.
The hideaway in Australia was a particularly good idea, Castiel decided. He had managed to uncover their approximate location shortly before Loki's appearance in New York by talking to Aziraphale. Aziraphale was fighting on Castiel's side of the war in heaven, which made it only too easy to ask him for help.
Castiel had never understood Aziraphale and Crowley's friendship. It transcended all barriers and resulted in them meeting for coffee on occasion, no violence or mischief on either one's part.
New South Wales was not an accurate enough location for Cas to find Crowley. However, the moment Loki appeared in New York, he was informed of it by several angels who'd been looking out for any of the three villains for him. He'd followed Loki back to the house he was in now, as the villains slept on.
Highly unwise of them to all sleep at once, thought Castiel, though they probably assumed that angels were out of the equation for this one. They wouldn't be able to see him anyway.
After memorising their location, Castiel vanished. He would tell Dean and Sam where they were, but the Time Lord could bring them here. Much as he loathed leaving Dean and Sam without help, he had his own war to attend to.
The interrogation Thor, Dean and Sam had started couldn't be going much worse if they'd dressed as a pantomime horse and interviewed the man who'd been throw in ancient Greek, concluded John.
'So,' said Sam after listening to the man recount his story, 'he just… appeared.'
'It's like I said, mister,' said the man, whose name was Terry, 'The big green guy with the helmet just appeared out of nowhere and shot me in the freaking chest.'
'What weapon did he possess?' asked Thor.
'Some great glowing metal stick,' said the man, 'It's probably a weapon of mass destruction. I told my wife, I said, Angela, the government's hiding something from us, whether it's weapons or tactics I dunno what, but it's something. Didn't think it was a green guy with a stick though.
'Loki's sceptre does control great amounts of energy,' said Thor, 'It will make combat with him a challenge, though not an impossible one.'
'What was this… green dude, saying?' asked Dean.
'He was talking about, oh, something about ruling the planet or some garbage,' said Terry, 'I mean, he was just sort of standing there, looking like he'd been to one of those conventions. I thought it might've been those whatsits, those people who go to those talk panels or whatever and dress up all weird? I thought it might've been a group of those guys. Until he shot the blue stick thing at me, anyway.'
Dean and Sam looked at each other. 'Uhuh.' said Dean.
'What does he mean, conventions?' Thor asked John quietly.
'It's… well, what happens is… never mind,' said John. He couldn't begin this conversation without Thor understanding television, actors and screaming fans, none of which he assumed Thor was familiar with.
Clint and Natasha had attempted to talk to the policemen, but aside from the one man who was there at the time, no one was able to tell them anything. As it was, all the policeman who had been there could say was that he appeared, caused minimal damage to American citizens, before taking off with no warning whatsoever.
Sherlock was searching the scene for clues. He was doing this with as much care as he possibly could, though it frustrated him to no end that all he was able to find was a scorch mark near where Terry'd been hit.
Jack, much to the Doctor's derision, was doing a scan for alien tech. It came up blank; Loki had left absolutely no trace of himself.
'This is hopeless,' said Natasha, 'we can't find anything here, he's left us with nothing.'
'On the contrary,' said Castiel, whose appearance once again startled Natasha into assuming a defensive pose. 'Natasha, I can promise you that this is unnecessary.'
'Reflexes,' she said, standing up straight again.
'Cas!' yelled Dean from where he was interviewing Terry. He, Thor, John and Sam rushed over a little too quickly, though it was mostly to do with getting away from Terry as fast as was humanly possible. 'News?'
'I've found where Crowley is hiding,' said Cas, 'Crowley, Moriarty and Loki. The sooner you go after them, the better chance you have; if you ambush them while they're sleeping, it will be far easier on all of you.'
Everyone had gathered around to hear Cas at this point. They looked at each other.
'We must not waste time,' said Thor, 'We should return to the blue box and seek them out this instant.'
'I'll help direct the Tardis,' Castiel said to the Doctor, 'but after that I can only help you if you sorely require it. The war in heaven cannot be fought without the representatives from both sides.'
'That it can't,' said the Doctor, an expression consisting mostly of awe crossing his face. Not for the first time, Dean wondered what the Doctor knew about Cas' future that Castiel himself didn't know.
'Thank you for your time,' said Steve to the policeman who claimed to be in charge of the operation, 'you've been… helpful.'
'You take care, son,' said the man, 'If anyone could help us against this terrorist, it'd be you.'
'Allons-y,' said the Doctor, and they began jogging back towards the Tardis.
Chapter 12: Crowley's House May Need Some Repairs
Tony was walking around the lab the Tardis had provided for him and Bruce. It was spacious, clean, absolutely stacked with scientific equipment, including instruments neither Bruce nor Tony could figure out how to use.
Somehow, the lab also put up one hell of a fight when Tony tried to get Jarvis to break into its systems.
'You really shouldn't do that,' said Bruce, watching as Tony clipped a tiny metal circle to the wall of the lab, 'The ship's going to get angry.'
'What, and I wouldn't like her when she's angry?'
Bruce smirked and went back to his work. He'd long since learnt not to bother responding to anger management jokes.
A large wailing noise came from the general direction of the Tardis console. The metal disk was thrown off the wall, hitting the opposite wall of the lab and rebounding, smashing Tony in the side of the head.
'Ow!' he yelped, as the floor inadvertently gave him a small electric shock.
Bruce laughed. 'Told you.'
'Sir, if you don't mind, the Tardis has allowed me access to her audio systems,' said Jarvis, his voice now echoing around the room, 'But she warns you that if that happens again, the electric shock won't be quite as comfortable.'
Bruce grinned more as Tony rolled his eyes and went back to his work. The gun Jack had left them with was sitting propped up on the table, partially dismantled.
'While this may be the most advanced weapon I've seen since the suit,' said Tony, inspiring an eyebrow raise from Bruce, 'but it's damn near useless for anything we need it for.'
'Well, not quite,' said Bruce, pointing at part of the gun, 'It seems to operate with some sort of laser fluid, rather than bullets; if we could somehow make that catch fire when leaving the gun…'
'Yeah, which'll do great with the frost giants, not so much the creepy demons,' said Tony, 'Salt? Holy water?'
'I can't believe I'm making a holy water and fire weapon,' said Bruce, almost to himself, 'Well, what'll we do then?'
Tony shrugged. 'Salt fire?'
Bruce turned his head, considering.
'It won't affect either demons or frost giants that much,' said Bruce, 'It would slow them down, but not terribly.'
Tony shrugged again. 'It's worth a shot.'
They'd been working at this new idea of creating a salt-based liquid that would somehow ignite upon being shot out of the gun when Jarvis announced 'Sir, Dr Banner, the others have come back.'
'Great,' said Tony, 'send them in.'
'Sir, this is the Tardis, not your house.'
Bruce looked at Tony, struggling not to giggle. Tony glared at Bruce, though there was no malice in it. He was having way too much fun with this whole Avengers thing to really find anyone genuinely annoying.
The pair of them walked out into the console room to see the Avengers piling back into the console room, accompanied by Castiel. Cas was looking around in appreciation of the Tardis walls.
'I don't think any of our kind has been inside one of these before,' said Castiel, 'It is a rather interesting experience.'
'Isn't it, though?' asked the Doctor, smiling.
'Dudes!' yelled Dean, 'We've got a demon, a nut job and a green horned guy to total!'
'Right!' said the Doctor, dashing around the console. Jack went to help, knowing what he did, and surprisingly, Sherlock leant forward and flicked a switch or two.
'You know how to operate this time vessel?' asked Castiel.
'I observed how to operate some of it,' said Sherlock, 'isn't it obvious?'
'I'm afraid not.'
'Not now, DI brains, not when there's action happening,' said Tony. He'd picked up his briefcase, left at the edge of the console room, and was clipping his suit into place as he spoke. Steve slipped the mask over his head and snatched up his shield, Clint checked his quiver, and Dean and Sam loaded their guns.
'Do you seriously need that mask?' asked Sam, staring at the A on Steve's forehead.
'I don't know, I think it completes the look,' said Phil. Sam raised an eyebrow. 'What? I helped design the outfit!'
As they bickered, Natasha had walked over to John.
'We're going to need everyone for this one, Watson,' she said, holding his gun out towards him. Where the hell she'd picked it up from, John had no idea. He reluctantly took hold of it. 'I'm a doctor, you realise, not a soldier.'
'Use the gun if you have to,' said Natasha, 'Save our lives if we're in trouble, you and Coulson help me get Moriarty out if you can.'
'Because that's not pressuring at all,' said John as Coulson nodded and reloaded his gun.
'Bruce, you're staying in here with the Doctor,' said Nick, 'Mycroft… you as well. And Sherlock.'
Mycroft nodded, but Sherlock looked up indignantly.
'If Dean's allowed to go, then I am perfectly capable…'
'Stay. Here.' said Nick with authority. John stared Sherlock down until he sat at the console. Dean grinned at Sherlock as he left the Tardis, looking extremely triumphant. Sherlock rolled his eyes.
'Let them have their fight,' said the Doctor, 'Sherlock, want to learn how to fly the Tardis?'
Sherlock looked at the console. It had been ever so long since he'd been taught by someone who knew more than he did. His thirst for knowledge battled with his determination to work it out for himself, and won.
'Dr Banner, would you mind showing me the progress you've made with the weapon?' asked Mycroft.
Bruce was a little stunned. Presenting his and Tony's half-finished work to Mycroft felt a little like giving a speech to his third grade teacher.
'Right, then,' said Bruce, walking off towards the lab, Mycroft following.
'So, what did you already figure out?' asked the Doctor.
Sherlock grinned. This man may be an immortal Time Lord with infinite knowledge and wisdom, but not even he could deduce what Sherlock had as quickly as Sherlock had.
'Well, this is clearly the brake lever…'
Sherlock's knowledge of the brake lever was actually, as it turns out, extremely useful. For the first time in years, the brakes were switched off when the Tardis landed, which mean that their landing was absolutely silent.
Though they tried to convince Thor that it was a bad idea, he went first.
The house was ridiculously spacious for three people, especially when you considered they were hidden in bushland. Night had fallen and the house was dark and quiet.
'We need a plan,' whispered Natasha.
'Well, we have the element of surprise,' Coulson whispered back, 'So we just… surprise them?'
'Surprise!' said Tony.
'Tony, don't!' started Steve, but Tony's hands were raised, and energy blasted into two windows on the side of the house.
In fairness, they'd completely forgotten Tony's vision whilst in the suit was a combination of X ray, heat signatures, night vision and telescopic vision. He saw through the house and saw exactly where to blast it to hurt them the most.
All three of them woke up separately, in their separate rooms. There are some things even these villains refused to do for safety, and one of those was share a room.
However, it left Moriarty rather helpless when glass shattered all over his bed and the carpet around him.
'CROWLEY! LOKI!' he yelled. Ridiculous as it felt, he hadn't even taken the precaution of keeping a gun by his bed. He shook himself, filing away a reminder to be far more careful next time. Even he, the Napoleon of Crime, wasn't invincible.
Crowley snapped awake. He turned to see Dean brandishing a demon knife, Sam with a gun, Tony with a weapon even Crowley's vessel couldn't tolerate that well.
Loki's eyes flew open at the noise. He leapt up and whipped around, sceptre immediately in his hand, just in time to defend himself from a powerful strike of Thor's. He deflected the hit and sent Thor spinning into the room's wardrobe, which immediately shattered into pieces.
It was only then that Loki realised he also needed to fend off Captain America and Jack. He tripled his form rapidly, concentrating on fighting the three of them at once; he was back to back with his other selves within seconds.
Clint had taken up residence on top of the Tardis. After all, he could see far better from a distance. He shot an arrow directly into Crowley's way. It exploded just behind him, throwing Crowley, Dean and Sam off their feet. Tony flew backwards a few metres before adjusting his boosters to compensate. Clint continued firing off arrows, creating a veritable minefield of explosions.
Unfortunately for Moriarty, both Crowley and Loki were too busy fighting for their own safety to guarantee his. Before even deciding upon whether he was going to manipulate, blackmail or, god forbid, fight his way out of the situation, Natasha had knocked him out by swinging the end of her gun into his temple.
'Was that really necessary?' asked John. Natasha simply raised an eyebrow. She then picked Moriarty up with relative ease, carrying him over her shoulder. John took her ridiculous strength in stride.
'Get him inside,' said John, 'We'll cover you.'
He and Coulson turned around, guns raised, and realised that there was little to no point. Back to back Loki's were fighting Steve and Thor, while Dean, Sam and Tony attempted to disable Crowley. Pentagrams were out of the question at this point. They still kept Natasha's back covered, just in case, as she walked Moriarty into the Tardis.
'Where the hell is Fury?' yelled Tony, shooting another beam of energy at Crowley, which he dodged spectacularly. Dean went after him with his demon knife and Crowley pulled out and raised a knife of his own, blocking Dean's attack.
'Go, go, go!' yelled Fury. He ran out of the house and straight into the Tardis. Though the Avengers didn't pause in their fighting, there was certainly a shift of attention.
The beeping coming from the house signalled a bomb.
'Run!' yelled Steve, managing to land a punch on the version of Loki he was fighting's jaw before he turned and ran. This appeared to be one of the projection Loki's, as it faded mere seconds after the blow landed. Jack's Loki faded as well, and he turned and ran towards the safety of the police box.
'Thor, get out of there!' yelled Clint, swinging from the roof of the Tardis inside. Thor was still fighting the apparently real Loki. Dean and Sam had turned to run while Tony held Crowley off.
Loki grinned mischievously.
'You haven't seen the last of me, brother,' said Thor with certainty.
'Oh, I highly doubt it,' said Loki, before vanishing into thin air. Thor growled in anger before rushing into the Tardis, Tony close on his tail.
'Loki!' yelled Crowley, 'You can't just… Moriarty'll tell them… oh, for hell's sake!'
Crowley vanished as well, leaving with a shout of 'You'll pay for that house! It was heritage listed!'
The Tardis doors closed and the Doctor rapidly flew her into the air, Sherlock and Jack dashing around the console to help. There was no time to teleport, just to fly straight up.
Seconds after they'd cleared the ground, the house below them exploded, the sound waves knocking the Tardis around and throwing half the Avengers off their feet.
'Stabilise her!' yelled the Doctor, trying to keep the Tardis steady. Eventually, the explosion died away, the Tardis appeared to be stable, and the Avengers were facing a mild dilemma.
What the hell were they going to do with Moriarty?
Chapter 13: The Disagreement
Loki and Crowley had both taught each other how to follow their movements when they teleported. This hadn't been useful; up until now.
'What the HELL was that!' asked Crowley, appearing beside Loki in the middle of what seemed to be the African Savannah. A pride of lions basked in the sunlight nearby. Loki and Crowley paid them no mind.
'What was what, exactly?' asked Loki. He was hardly even looking at Crowley, instead examining his own sceptre for damage.
'Oh, gee, let's think,' said Crowley, 'Letting Moriarty be kidnapped by the guys desperate to stop us! How about that, dumbass?'
Loki smirked. 'You don't seriously believe that Moriarty will reveal the details of our plan to the Avengers, do you?'
'Course he will!' yelled Crowley, 'He's a two-timing criminal bastard! Our plans'll be out in seconds if they start interrogating him!'
'You honestly think he'd give Sherlock Holmes the satisfaction?' asked Loki, 'He desperately wants to bring the man down. He'd never divulge any information that would be of any slight use to him. No, Moriarty won't speak. We continue as planned.'
'Well, I disagree,' said Crowley firmly, 'This whole thing'll be completely ruined if he spits out the plan.'
'Which isn't going to happen.'
'I'm going to pull him out.'
Loki whipped around to face Crowley.
'If you even try,' said Loki, 'they will get you. Those Winchester boys have caught you before, you told us so yourself, and don't think they're not expecting a rescue mission. Of course they are. It's what Moriarty would want; draw the attention towards the "rescue" while we actually go about our work.'
'I'm leaving in a couple of hours to go get him,' said Crowley, 'No way I can get inside that blasted police box, it's got wards I didn't even know existed. I'll wait til they land him somewhere, then bust him out.'
'I won't be joining you, you realise,' said Loki, 'This entire idea is foolish and unnecessary. If you'd just…'
'If I'm not back by an hour after I leave to get him, come after me, would you?'
'Oh, I don't think I'll be doing that.'
'Exactly what I expected of you,' said Crowley. He grinned anyway. He didn't expect to fail.
Loki rolled his eyes. Crowley gave up and disappeared, off to another of his favourite cafes. He'd relax as much as he could before he went after Moriarty.
Loki didn't follow him. He retreated to Jotunheim, intending on solidifying his rule, further "honouring his promise" to return the realm to its former glory, and wait until he had to bail not only Moriarty, but that idiot Crowley out as well.
Moriarty woke up, his eyes blurry. He was lying on some sort of thin cushion. He rubbed his eyes, attempting to regain his proper vision. As his surroundings slowly grew clearer, he could finally figure out where he was.
Hm. Some sort of cell. He could work with that. The walls around him were curved and made entirely of glass; he was in a sort of short, cylindrical prison cell. He assumed that the glass would be close on unbreakable.
As he looked around, he could see several people watching him from the other side of the glass; Mycroft, who he recognised. A man in a leather coat with an eye patch. And another man in a trench coat and a suit. He'd never felt more like a fish in a fishbowl in his entire life.
'He's awake,' said the one with the eye patch.
'I was aware, Mr Fury,' said Mycroft. Moriarty grinned, memories of worming information about Sherlock out of Mycroft surfacing in his mind. Mycroft stared at Moriarty with an expression that was carefully controlled, but still quite clearly loathing.
'Hi there, Jim,' said the man in the trench coat, 'I'm the Doctor. And these two have been so kind…' he paused and stared at Mycroft and "Mr Fury" intently, 'To let me offer you a choice.'
'How lovely of you,' Moriarty said, 'A choice in what, exactly?'
'You don't have to do this.'
Moriarty couldn't help it. He chuckled. He continued chuckling for what must have been at least a minute. He assumed that Fury was convinced that he was insane.
'You can't be serious? How often, in the thousands of times you've tried that Doctor, has that ever worked?' asked Moriarty.
The Doctor tilted his head from side to side. 'Well... not often.'
Moriarty raised his eyebrows. The word "never" was written all over the Doctor's face as if with black marker.
'We couldn't keep you in the Doctor's… ship,' said Fury, 'He wouldn't let us lure your other two friends here if it meant going through the ship.'
'He does have his reasons,' said Mycroft, 'The fiasco in Cardiff in 2005 was caused predominantly by another creature getting hold of the Tardis' energy.'
'How do you know about that?' asked the Doctor.
Mycroft simply smiled and turned back to look at Moriarty. 'Let me assure you, Moriarty, you will have no influence on me this time around.'
'And why is that?' asked Moriarty.
'You are not being interviewed. You are simply being used as bait for… shall we say, the bigger fish.'
'You of all people, Mycroft, know that the strongest fish is often not the smartest.'
'But Loki and Crowley aren't exactly morons,' said Nick, 'and at least they had the skill not to get stuck in the box you're in.'
The Doctor and Mycroft smiled.
'If they're coming after me,' said Moriarty, 'they will get me out of here. And that would be ever so embarrassing for your team, wouldn't it?'
'Let me know if the consulting criminal gets bored, would you?' said Nick, 'We've got some planning to do.'
Moriarty sat down. There was nothing in this prison cell he could use, nothing at all.
Well. Now he just had to wait and hope that the idiots wouldn't come and rescue him before activating the plan.
'Does it feel weird using a box built for a guy like you to hold a wimpy little douche like that?' Dean asked Bruce.
'Dean, get out of the lab,' said Sherlock. He'd offered to stay in the Tardis with Bruce and Tony while they sorted out weapons; despite John's concerned expressions, Tony had insisted that they'd be able to handle him.
Well, perhaps they could have handled Sherlock, but possibly not while Dean was there.
'I was just asking!'
'You were trying to incite Doctor Banner to lose control and "hulk out" as you put it,' said Sherlock, 'Not only is that useless but dangerous.'
'Like you can talk about danger.'
'This ship is centuries old and completely unique. It would be a tragedy not to be able to study it further if it were destroyed.'
'Do you two ever shut up?' asked Tony, 'We're making weapons here. Little bit of focus?'
'Like you can talk, Mr I-Am-Iron-Man, you're the most distracted guy here.'
'Everyone,' said Bruce, and they all piped down for a second. 'Just… Dean, didn't Fury say he needed help with trapping Crowley?'
'And I mean, he's going to get it wrong without you, right?' asked Tony, his arms out as if they were holding up his point.
'Whatever, dude,' said Dean as he left the lab. Sherlock sighed and went back to his microscope.
'This is wrong.'
Tony walked over to look. 'What are you talking about, Observatory, I fixed that one myself.'
'The concentration of salt in this mixture is completely unwarranted. This is one of the least efficient…'
'Sherlock,' started Bruce, 'I think he knows what he's doing.'
'But the calculations…'
'You heard the man, I know what I'm doing.'
Sherlock frowned and went back to his work, occasionally noting something down on the paper beside him.
'What's up, green guy?'
'I'm in a time machine,' said Bruce, 'building a weapon for demons and aliens with two of the most chaotic scientists I've met.'
'I'm not a scientist,' said both Tony and Sherlock at the same time. They stared at each other in astonishment, bewildered that that could possibly have happened.
Bruce began tightening a prototype of their weapon with a screwdriver.
'This one's about ready to test,' he said, 'Sherlock, if the salt concentrations are as off as you say, we'll be able to tell in about ten minutes.'
Both Tony and Sherlock walked out the door immediately, straight out of the Tardis and towards the room the Helicarrier apparently had for testing weaponry.
Bruce sighed. How he'd been landed the job of looking after two of the most egotistical men on this ship was beyond him.
Thor, Sam and Dean were apparently chatting to Nick and Mycroft about demon and Loki-capturing strategies. Natasha, Jack and Clint had opted for combat training, complaining about the recent relative lack of action compared to their usual fare. Of all the people in this Avengers team, the Doctor was most comfortable leaving Jack with those two, so he took some time to sit down and chat to Steve about 1945.
Steve carefully avoided bringing up the topic of taking him back. He didn't want to get his hopes up. The Doctor avoided the topic as well, but for a completely different reason; he wasn't sure he could take him back, depending on how the timelines were altered by this event.
So while Steve and the Doctor chatted at one side of the table, John and Coulson were left chatting at the other. John had long ago fetched himself some tea, and though he offered it to Coulson, he declined in favour of water.
'I cannot believe I let Sherlock into a room with a man who shouldn't be provoked,' said John, taking a gulp of his drink, 'I can't see that going well.'
'Oh, Sherlock's a worry?' asked Coulson, 'I'd be more worried about Tony. The man's out of control. He'll be the first to set Bruce off if anyone.'
'You haven't talked to Sherlock much, have you?'
'Not really, no. Haven't had the time.'
'Most egotistical, stubborn man I've ever met.'
'I'd say the same for Tony.'
'So, we've put them both in a room with Doctor Banner,' said John, 'I can see that having been a great decision.
'To shocking decisions,' said Coulson, raising his glass, 'and hopefully to egotistical science buddies creating the hell out of that weapon.'
John chuckled, raising his mug to toast the idea, and their conversation continued happily.
It was difficult, decided Crowley, weighing up when to leave. It couldn't be immediately, or he'd be anticipated. It couldn't be too long, or else he'd have lost all advantage of the Avengers not being prepared for his presence.
If only he'd managed to take out Sam and Dean before the eye patch man set off that goddamn bomb, he'd have been in the clear. He was willing to bet that none of the others that attacked them had any idea about angels and demons.
Knowing the Winchesters though, Castiel was involved. Which meant that he was far better off with the Winchesters helping the Avengers than the angel; angels were far less likely to make mistakes.
How Castiel managed to balance his Earthly friends and an entire civil war in heaven, Crowley simply didn't understand. He'd envy the man if he wasn't so intent on hating everything about him.
Screw it, he thought. It was time. He knew where they were stationed; an enormous flying ship hovering over the Pacific Ocean. Try as they might with their reflector shields, Crowley wasn't going to miss something that big floating around, let alone one with huge time energy readings pouring out of the blue police box that had landed on it.
Without so much as a whisper he vanished.
Chapter 14: Trapped
Crowley didn't waste any time in his attack. He knew roughly where Moriarty was, but he would never in a million years be able to find his exact location before he arrived on the ship. He was angry; angry at Loki for not helping him, angry at the others for kidnapping Moriarty, angry at Moriarty for not having the goddamn foresight to keep a gun by his bed.
He landed on the platform on the outside the ship. Within seconds, SHIELD agent guns were trained on him. With a swipe of his arm, every agent manning a gun was thrown to the right, some of them breaking arms or collarbones as they crashed into the metal walls. Crowley smirked and walked up to a door into the main part of the Helicarrier, kicking it in with a vengeance.
He was immediately met with what could have been a demon knife to the face by Sam. Crowley's arm luckily fended of the attack. He tried flipping Sam over, but his strength held out. With a swift kick to the shins and a slightly less swift knee to the stomach, Crowley had Sam leaning forward, in quite a bit of pain. He knocked the man to the floor, snatching the demon knife up from the ground.
'Getting a bit slow there, Sam?' asked Crowley, smiling cruelly, as Sam coughed. Hm. Maybe Crowley's knee to the torso had been stronger than he thought.
He looked around. Surprisingly, the other Winchester brother wasn't following his brother around like an overprotective dog for once. He looked around. Conveniently, he'd entered through a staff entrance; there was actually an honest-to-god sign with rough directions to everywhere. He assumed "cage" was the prison that Moriarty was being held in. Admittedly not the most obvious of directions, but it was more plausible than either "cafeteria" or "flight deck".
Crowley stormed off in the direction of this supposed cage and was met with a blast from that infernal Iron Man suit. He turned to face it, fully aware that while he was capable of dodging the suit, he had no hope of fighting the man within while he was wearing it.
He waited until Tony landed and shot another fireball out of his hands before disappearing and reappearing in an adjacent corridor, about ten metres down from Tony. Crowley raced along, nearly running to find where this cage was.
He grabbed an arrow out of the air as he entered a slightly larger than average room. It had been shot directly towards his temple. The beeping noise that it made prompted him to throw it violently away, towards where the arrow came from; he heard a blast and turned to see the arrow-shooting one hanging by one hand from a metal balcony. Crowley had no doubt that the man could pull himself up and back into action very shortly, so he hurried on into the corridor.
A clear cylindrical room was visible from the corridor he was in. He could see Moriarty's form leaning carefully against the glass wall on the inside, facing away from him.
Crowley burst into the corridor around the prison cell Moriarty was held in, Sam's demon knife in hand. He walked forward with determination, opening the door to the cell.
'Crowley?' asked Moriarty, looking around at the noise, 'What are you doing…'
'Getting you out,' said Crowley, hitting a button he hoped to hell was the right one and walking into the cell.
'No, don't!' said Moriarty loudly, his hand out as if to push Crowley out of the room himself, but it was too late.
'You know, you son of a bitch,' said Dean, walking into the corridor, 'I'd have thought that would've been harder.' He pressed a button on the panel and the door slid shut behind Crowley.
Crowley smiled winningly and went to put his hand on Moriarty's shoulder.
'Oh, don't, Crowley, you're making it worse,' started Moriarty as Crowley's hand hit his shoulder.
Crowley looked at his hand in confusion when they remained exactly where they were.
'Why aren't we… oh…'
He looked upward, to where Moriarty was pointing, and saw a pale white pentagram drawn carefully on the roof. Crowley examined it for mistakes, and found that, true to form, the Winchester brothers had kept the pentagram perfect. He almost winced at the basic trap.
'Well, what do you know,' said Crowley to himself, 'Loki was right.'
Thor, Sherlock and the Doctor walked in from various entrances around the cell. Moriarty had his head in his hands, facing firmly towards the ground, shaking his head in embarrassment.
'I'll be perfectly honest, I didn't think that would work,' said the Doctor.
'However it was done, the Demon King is now trapped,' said Thor, 'we must move swiftly to secure Loki as well.'
'Loki's not coming.' said Crowley.
'What?' asked Thor. 'No, it is in his very nature to walk into this.'
'Crowley, Loki will come now, because, imbecile, YOU WEREN'T MEANT TO COME AFTER ME!'
Crowley pointed at Moriarty, a confused expression on his face. 'But, they'd have tortured you. You'd have told them everything.'
'I've been tortured before, Crowley, and I can handle it, IDIOT!'
'Loki is going to come now,' said Sherlock, smiling, 'Moriarty knows that as well as I do; he's simply trying to throw you off the scent. '
'Mind explaining that, Mr Deductioning?' asked Dean.
Sherlock raised his eye at the wording before explaining. 'Loki has an army of frost giants, according to Thor. Crowley has an army of demons, according to you. If the frost giants are already making appearances around the globe, then of course the demons are already in place. I'm assuming they're inhabiting people in positions of significant power. Loki has no way of controlling these demons; that power rests squarely with Crowley. Dean, how do demons communicate without their standard teleportation?'
'Blood,' said Dean roughly, 'they talk through a cup of human blood.'
'Somehow I believe Moriarty has a safeguard in place to avoid being used for that particular purpose,' said Sherlock. Both he and Crowley turned to look at Moriarty.
'Oh, well done, you,' said Moriarty, 'If Loki's coming, there's nothing you can do about it, Sherlock. There's nothing any of you can do.'
The Avengers in the room turned to look at each other.
'Look, Jim,' said Dean, 'I think we can handle it, alright?'
'You won't do so well if you underestimate him,' said Crowley, 'He may be a bit of a prat, but he's a powerful prat.'
'I have trained with him since we were born,' said Thor, 'I know exactly what he is capable of, and the ways most likely to stop him.'
'He's never tried a rescue before though, has he?' asked Crowley.
Thor thought for a moment.
'The demon makes an excellent point. For once, he has allies he does not intend to dispose of.'
'Loki will not easily be reasoned with, Doctor,' said Thor, 'I know you wish to offer him a choice. But it is futile. If there is a way out, he will always choose power. The only way is to return him to Asgard and await his punishment there. '
The Doctor sighed.
'Just let me ask, just once, and then you do what you have to.'
Thor nodded, though it was with an air of futility.
'Wonder where Loki is, then…' said Dean.
As a matter of fact, Loki was angry.
It had been two hours since Crowley's "If I'm not back by now I'm stuck" time limit. Crowley. Stupid goddamn Crowley. Sure, the two of them didn't have the ability to spread footage of their fight live and internationally, but they sure could cause a lot of trouble without Moriarty.
They could have won the war, mocked Moriarty mercilessly for not being a part of it, released him and allowed him to have some mediocre amount of control over the Earth, all without his help. The only difference would have been the initial lack of publicity, and the offset would be wounding Moriarty's pride beyond repair.
Which, Loki reminded himself; he attended to HIMSELF when he LANDED IN TIMES SQUARE.
In anger he shot the wall in his throne room in Jotunheim with his spear. A burst of energy hit a window and the glass went smashing to the floor.
He was going to have to get Crowley out. Moriarty wasn't as necessary, but he may as well pick up the weak mortal while he was saving the idiotic demon from his own stupid behaviour.
He needed a distraction. He needed to get as many people on the outside of that flying ship as he could. Then he needed a way to sneak in and the power to destroy all those who stood in his way.
It was a shame that he couldn't just appear in the cell Crowley and Moriarty were no doubt being held in. For a start, he didn't know where it was. Secondly, Crowley had told him that he could only be trapped by a pentagram, and even Loki couldn't pull him out of that.
Besides. It was time to make a scene. It was time to show these Avengers who they were dealing with. Or, at least, that the last man they were dealing with was rather more threatening and vicious than those two idiots they'd already managed to capture.
Loki morphed into his battle gear, horned helmet and all, and vanished.
'What now?' asked John. The whole lot of them were now sitting around a table, amiably sharing drinks. They were discussing the rather successful tactics they'd used. They'd set most of it up, obviously; it would be far easier to get Crowley into the pentagram if they convinced him that they were unprepared and disoriented by his arrival.
'Now, we wait,' said Fury. There was mixed response; impatience, fear, and mild discontent. Generally, though, they couldn't wait for Loki to arrive.
The three of them trapped would make their lives a whole lot easier.
Of course, that's precisely what wasn't going to happen.
Chapter 15: Loki's Rescue Mission
John's phone started ringing less than ten minutes after Crowley was safely locked up in the cage. The screen proclaimed it to be Lestrade. John sighed. Apparently Lestrade wasn't even bothered with trying to contact Sherlock first.
He held up his hand for quiet, and was met with mediocre obedience. For the most part, the conversation was carried out at a fractionally lower volume.
'John, we can't put these giant things off as hallucinations if they start destroying entire bloody villages!'
John sat up very straight, very quickly. Mycroft's eyes shot over to him.
'Northern Scotland, small village, not many people, but they're wrecking buildings, John. What the hell do you want me to tell them?'
'Quiet, everyone!' John called, 'Frost giants are attacking a village.'
Thor stuck his hand out immediately, Mjolnir flying from the side of the room directly into his hand. He stood immediately.
'Where are they?'
'Calm down, muscles,' said Tony, 'We'll get there.'
The Doctor leant over and wordlessly asked John to pass the phone over.
'Hi, this is the Doctor, where are we headed?'
'Sorry, "the Doctor?"' asked Lestrade, 'No actual name, or anything?'
'Just the Doctor,' he replied, 'Tell me where we're going.'
'I don't want to ask how you're going to get there as soon as you seem to think you are, do I?'
'Probably not, no.'
With a long-suffering sigh, Lestrade related the details of the place to the Doctor he didn't know. The Doctor thanked him and hung up.
'To the Tardis!' he said.
Nick put his hand to his ear and spoke to Coulson.
'Agent Coulson, I need you to tell Agent Hill to push the Helicarrier towards Scotland.'
'We'll tell you when it's not an emergency.'
'Roger that, sir.' Though Nick could hear him chuckling, he wasn't quite sure why.
He stopped everyone as they started getting up and walked towards the Tardis, parked in a cleaning cupboard down the hall.
'Take these.' He handed out ear pieces to everyone. 'Connected together on a separate wavelength. Press down on them and talk if you've got something worth saying.'
His eyes drifted to Tony and Dean as he emphasised the last part of the sentence. The pair of them adopted similar indignant expressions as they all reached out to take their ear pieces.
'Wait,' said Sam. Everyone once again stopped in their tracks.
'Do you not understand the concept of an emergency, Winchester?' asked Natasha.
'Some of us should probably stay here,' he said, 'I mean, this kind of reeks of a trap.'
'Understandable,' said Mycroft, 'Doctor Banner, I suggest you retire to the laboratory on board this Helicarrier. It may not be as sophisticated as the one within the Tardis, but it will be safer. Sherlock, Sam… I suggest you remain here.'
'It's not much of a fighting force,' Clint pointed out, 'Maybe if Thor…'
'I will not stand by idly while my brother's soldiers terrorise this mortal realm,' said Thor, hefting his hammer as if to prove a point.
'Well, if Tony…'
'Na-uh, Hawkeye, no way I'm missing out on the action.' Tony's suit was half on.
Mycroft looked at Nick, eyebrows raised.
'Jack, stay here,' said the Doctor, 'We'll be back when the village is safe.'
'Just do it, Jack!'
Jack slouched back into his chair at the table. John looked at him pityingly. For some reason, John was the only one who had managed to stop Jack hitting on him.
Tony, Clint, Steve, Natasha, Thor, Dean and the Doctor raced towards the Tardis. The door unlocked with a snap of the Doctor's fingers and they rushed in. The Doctor flicked the Tardis into gear and they took off quickly.
Loki smiled as the blue box materialised in the tiny town in Scotland he had sent the frost giants into. He was perched behind an enormous tree, watching from a distance, waiting for them to fall into his trap.
Mortals. They were always racing to protect even the tiniest of cities from harm, when chaos surrounded them every day.
The only reason he hadn't invaded a major city was, begrudgingly, so he didn't ruin Moriarty's plan. It would be difficult to put down sightings of frost giants as hallucinations when they were shown all over somewhere as massive as Beijing or New York.
The second he saw Thor walk out of the blue box, Loki could already hear the storms start to form. No doubt they'd say that any damage caused by the frost giants was caused by the storm Thor was summoning up.
Loki couldn't help it. He grinned.
Crowley and Moriarty were going to have to eat anything they'd said about his incompetence after this one.
Sherlock hadn't waited at the table. He'd raced into the lab with Bruce in order to develop the weapon they were desperately trying to perfect. To their complete irritation, it wasn't working.
Sam and John had shrugged before following Sherlock, leaving Nick and Mycroft to their drinks. Four heads were better than two; even if the original two heads involved were absolute geniuses.
The lab had one entire wall made from glass. As far as John was concerned, it was completely absurd as a laboratory, particularly one that contained a man liable to create explosions and another man liable to explode himself, but you took what you got.
'So, what's the weapon so far?' asked Sam.
Bruce looked up and smiled at him. 'We're trying to combine a flammable liquid with salt, but it doesn't seem to be taking. Either the salt concentration isn't high enough to register on a level that would be likely to hurt demons, or it can't project far enough to be a viable weapon, or it won't light properly. There's a myriad of problems with the design.'
'Have you tried holy water?' asked Sam.
Sherlock rolled his eyes.
'Of course we have, Sam,' said Sherlock, 'Holy water and salt doesn't exactly do much for a frost giant.'
'Have you tried supercritical holy water?' asked John. *
Bruce and Sherlock both froze in the positions they were in. Slowly, they turned their heads to glance at each other, before turning to stare at John.
John flushed slightly.
'What do you mean, supercritical holy water?' asked Sam.
'Well, when you heat water above a specific temperature, but pressurise it so it's still water, it's got some pretty impressive properties,' explained John, 'If you could keep the container at the right pressure, and insulate it well enough, it could work.'
Sherlock was still staring at John, slightly stumped for words.
'How did you think of that?' asked Bruce.
'Chemistry,' said John, 'Had to pass it to get through medical school, didn't I?'
Sherlock nodded abruptly before pointedly picking up the weapon they had been designing and placing it in a corner. John walked around, helpfully scrunching up the sheets on which the previous designs had been drawn.
He did so with a slight smirk on his face. Trust the brainy guys to overlook the simplest of solutions.
Bruce raised his hand to his ear.
'Hearing you, buddy,' said Tony's voice directly into all of their ears. 'What's up?'
'Supercritical fluids,' Sherlock interjected, 'It's the most obvious solution. We simply happened to overlook it.'
Well, damn everything if that tiny smile of John's grew into a full-on grin at that admission.
'Damn that,' said Tony, 'Who was the smart one who thought of that?'
'That'd be John,' said Sam, hand to his ear.'
'Good one, soldier,' said Tony, 'We'll get back to you. Frost giants on the prowl and all.'
Sam, Bruce and Sherlock lowered their hands from their ears. And that's when the four of them heard an enormous crash, and the entire Helicarrier shook.
Tony had only stopped to chat in between blasting at frost giants. Damn but those things could move. Not to mention that Tony had to spend a large amount of time dodging the ice they were trying to destroy his suit with; as Jarvis kept helpfully reminding him, the suit wasn't that quick at its defrosting process.
'Shut up, Jarvis, tell me how to fix it or try helping out instead,' said Tony, darting to the side and managing to shear the icy blade off a frost giants hand. It growled, rapidly producing another one.
Steve was running around between the giants. He was forever grateful for his immense strength here; he felt like a midget surrounded by these creatures, and they evidently thought of him as such. It gave him an advantage; at least, until he started using his shield to smash into their kneecaps.
Clint was racing along rooftops, somersaulting in mid-air whenever ice was thrown in his direction. Natasha had begun by shooting directly at one of the giant's eyes; it had yelled, covered its eyes with its hands and wildly swung in her direction. She was knocked into the side of a house, her right side feeling extremely cold from the contact with the frost giant's club. Soon after that, the giants learnt to keep their eyes away from the short one with the gun. Unfortunately for Natasha, this meant that her sole strategy was trying to get a clear shot at their eyes.
Dean had given up with the guns as soon as he looked at the creatures. Taking a deep breath, he'd pulled Ruby's demon knife from his pocket, prayed to god, or whatever sympathetic angels were listening, that it worked on frost giants.
It worked a treat, alright. He dashed between them, slashing at their legs, but much as he'd never have admitted it, he knew for a fact that he was little more than a minor inconvenience to these otherworldly giants. He almost, almost regretted joining in on the fight when a kick finally hit him in the chest and sent him backwards into someone's front garden.
Thor was in his element. Though he deeply regretted his original wish of warfare against the Jotuns, he was at least glad of the practice at fighting them. This did come with a trade-off; most of them recognised him. And were extremely eager to shatter every bone in his body, Mjolnir be damned.
He'd managed to knock only one of them out in the first few minutes of fighting.
The fighting continued. Steve and Natasha both started to get a similar feeling at around the same time.
Between the Tardis and the Avengers now stood a throng of Jotuns. If there was an emergency, they'd have to fight their way through.
It was beginning to sound like the worst trap they could possibly have walked into.
Loki's appearance had caused rather a commotion, he mused. He had landed in what seemed to be the flight deck, surrounded by agents, all of whom were at their computers. Hardly any of them had noticed his presence, though those that had were scrambling for their guns.
Loki pointed his spear at the roof and sent out a bolt of energy. The glass and the lights shattered, alerting everyone. He grinned and vanished, landing in the hallway behind the flight deck, hearing numerous shots ring out, presumably directed at where he'd been.
He smirked. This was going to be easy.
'He's here! Loki's here!' Nick yelled into his earpiece. He could see Loki at the end of the hall from his spot at the table. He turned to look at Mycroft, but he was nowhere to be found. Typical, thought Nick. First sign of action and the guy darts off to hide. No room for fighting, that one. Jack, on the other hand, was still there, gun at the ready.
Loki turned at Nick's yell. Nick and Jack's ears were bombarded with shouts from the Avengers who were currently in Scotland; Scotland, of all places, and how in the HELL had Nick managed to miss that giant freaking trap Loki had set…
He ducked and rolled as Loki darted into the room, spear pointed directly at Nick. Nick pulled out a gun from his belt and shot at Loki, but it tore straight through his cape as he dashed through to the cage.
'Someone, after him!' yelled Jack, hand to his ear. Jack hadn't ducked, hadn't rolled; in fact, Loki's spear had shot him straight through the shoulder and while he was wincing in pain, he didn't seem to be concerned about it.
Sherlock, John and Sam stared at each other. None of them had the capabilities to fight Loki, not really; Sam would probably have the best chance, but no doubt he'd get blown to smithereens.
'Get the hell over here, guys!' Sam yelled into his earpiece.
'We can't!' said Dean, 'There's a line of freaking monsters between here and our ticket out of here!'
'He's right,' said the Doctor, 'I can't move her, she can't land in a battle zone, for all I know one of the giants could end up in here!'
'Tony, get your goddamn ass over here!' yelled Nick, 'Thor, you…'
'On my way,' said Thor, his earpiece emitting an extremely crackling sound. Clearly he was already well on the way towards them.
'Wise guy,' said Tony, 'Taking off. Would've gone easier if you'd got that weapon sorted, Spock.'
John poked Sherlock in the ribs. 'He means you.'
'And that's coming from the mouth of the great Tony Stark, weapons manufacturer?' Sherlock mocked.
'Watch it, detective, you've got nothing in this team but you're brains and I'm damn sure they're not as huge as you think they are.'
'Listen here, Stark...'
'Guys!' yelled John, 'Bruce! It's ok, Bruce, they're not… it's fine…'
'Rage monster here's just as at fault as me, Holmes,' said Tony.
Bruce snarled. Sam and John took that as a red flag.
'Bruce, take the earpiece out,' said John as calmly as he could, 'it's ok, nobody's hurting anyone, we're…'
'Geez, spark off already man, you're way too tense to be healthy.'
Bruce's eyes went green.
'Run!' yelled John. In a desperate effort, Sam leapt forwards and tore the earpiece out of Bruce's ear before turning tail and dragging Sherlock out of the room with him. They had no idea what was going to happen to the guy. They thought it best to get as far away as possible.
Bruce couldn't think. He was only partially conscious every time the Hulk took over.
It wouldn't have been as bad, he mused, had he not been listening to Tony and Sherlock bickering for hours and hours already. This was just the icing on the cake.
And didn't it come at the absolute worst possible time, he thought as his shirt tore into shreds.
Thor and Iron Man were racing through the sky, Thor driven by a desperation to confront his brother, Tony driven by a desperation to out-pace a god.
They were neck and neck the entire way. Both of them knew that they were unlikely to get there on time.
But if they just pushed a little bit harder, perhaps…
Loki walked straight through the hallway in the direction of the cage. He wasn't quite sure that he knew where he was going, but it seemed to be working out for him so far. He'd had minimal agents confront him, and he'd sent each one and their pitiful guns flying backwards into walls, doors and hallways.
The irritating man with the army coat and the gun continued to follow him, shooting as often as he could. Loki gave up after a while, turning and swiping his spear around, connecting with the man's temple. He fell backwards immediately, apparently unconscious. Loki continued his journey through the Helicarrier, stopping anyone who got in his way.
None of them died, he noted. He supposed he wasn't directly aiming for that outcome. Yet.
A circular glass cage came into view. Loki was instantly, absolutely certain that this was where Moriarty and Crowley were being kept. The reason he knew this was also the reason that he completely and utterly stunned.
Moriarty was perched on Crowley's shoulders, Crowley holding his hands in an attempt to balance him. Moriarty was slowly, carefully, straightening out, dagger in hand.
Loki approached the glass. Moriarty stretched up.
'What the hell are you doing?' asked Loki.
Moriarty wobbled and would have fallen, but Crowley grabbed at his shins and lowered himself rather too quickly to the ground. Moriarty stumbled off, looking the least dignified Loki had ever seen him.
Loki couldn't help it. He was in the middle of a violent rescue mission. No doubt his "brother" and Iron Man were racing towards them as fast as they could. He had limited time to finish this.
But he paused to giggle anyway.
'We were trying to break the pentagram,' said Crowley, his face slightly red with humiliation, 'If we scratched it I'd be able to get us both out.'
'And it didn't occur to you that ceiling is far too high for even the two of you combined to reach?' asked Loki, his eyes glittering with mirth.
Moriarty glared. 'Thank you, Loki. Now, if you wouldn't mind…'
Loki rolled his eyes before vanishing and reappearing in the cell with them. It obviously hadn't been built to contain him if he was able to get into it without trouble.
He raised his spear and shot an enormous smoking hole into the roof of the cage. It shuddered, and a mechanism released. Loki had a fraction of a second to see what was happening. He launched himself across the cage and grabbed Crowley and Moriarty, disappearing just as the cage fell through the floor and towards the ocean.
Tony and Thor arrived at the Helicarrier just in time to watch the cage smash into the water below. A quick duck down to examine the sinking wreckage showed them no sign of the villains.
They'd come so close. They'd failed.
Their eyes were drawn from the hole the cage had dropped from. Through the gap, a giant, green figure was clearly visible, ripping the metal tube the cell had dropped to into shreds.
Tony took a deep breath, and he and Thor flew up to hopefully subdue him.
The frost giants simultaneously vanished. The Avengers fighting them were a tad put out.
The announcement about Loki came through their earpieces. They tried not to act too disappointed as they trudged, beaten and bruised, towards the Tardis. The news of the Hulk terrified them; but the faster they got back to the Helicarrier, the faster they could help.
Loki had landed them, for god knows what reason, in a comfortable apartment in a ski village. Looking out the window and examining the local writing showed the trio that they were in Russia.
'Thank me later,' said Loki, 'For now… we're starting tomorrow. If we're captured again, they'll be ready for us.'
Moriarty and Crowley nodded. They were rather excited.
Tomorrow, the world would bow to them.
Chapter 16: The Villains are Dancing, the Hulk is Hulking
The last bit of this, the second section from the villain's perspectives, is a little OOC. I couldn't help myself. If you'd rather not read it, it makes sense without it. Thanks guys!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
'Can someone tell me what in the HELL is going on?' asked Nick, his hand pressed to his earpiece.
'There isn't cause to yell yet, Director Fury,' said Mycroft, 'The situation should be under control shortly.'
'Uh, about that, Big Brother,' said Tony, 'Hulk's kind of… hulking.' A roar could be heard from Tony's earpiece.
'Think you can keep him distracted, Stark?' asked Nick.
'Yeah, sure,' said Tony, sounds of energy from his suit emanating down the line, 'Dr Hammer and I'll sort this out.'
At this point, Jack came dashing back into the room.
'Well, that went well.' He sat at the table, pouring himself a glass of water, wincing as his shoulder injury twinged a little.
Nick sighed and put his hand to his ear again. 'Doctor Watson, if you could get to the main room, we've got an injured soldier here.'
'I'm not a soldier,' insisted Jack, 'Not anymore.'
'On my way,' said John, 'Sherlock and Sam are with me. How's Bruce doing?'
'Doctor Banner is not cooperating at the moment, unfortunately,' said Thor. Even without the aid of the earpiece, they could hear another roar, and the ship shook very slightly.
'Help him out, would you?' came Steve's voice, 'Sorry, we're nearly back.'
In little over a minute, John had led Sherlock and Sam back into the central room before heading straight to Jack and examining his shoulder.
After a few minutes of poking and prodding, Sherlock tilted his head to the side and said 'You're not flirting.'
Jack turned his head, straining against the angle John was holding his shoulder at. 'What's that, genius?'
'You're an outrageous flirt,' said Sherlock, staring directly at him, 'yet for some reason you've refrained from continuing this trend with John.' He stopped, as if waiting for an explanation.
Jack looked at John, eyebrow raised. John shrugged at Jack, shook his head at Sherlock and started wrapping a bandage around his arm.
'Kind of feels like hitting on my dad,' said Jack, 'No offense, Doctor.'
'None taken,' said John.
From the hallway, the unmistakable sounds of the Tardis came floating through. Sherlock rolled his eyes. 'The Doctor seems to have forgotten the brakes again.'
'Sherlock you can't honestly know that…' started John, but the Doctor walked in and interrupted him.
'Now Sherlock, don't say a word about the brakes.'
Sherlock smirked. John put his hand to his forehead.
'How was Scotland?' asked Sam.
'Cold,' said Steve, 'honestly.'
'A decoy,' said Natasha. 'More of us should have stayed behind to secure Moriarty and Crowley.'
'We'd not have gone too well without the lot of us there, though,' said Dean, 'Those frost giants… ugh. Sam, you do not want to have to deal with those.'
'I'm afraid we'll have to,' said Steve, 'Loki's going to use them whenever he starts this. My guess would be sooner rather than later.'
Sherlock opened his mouth to talk before Mycroft walked in from the opposite side.
'And where the hell were you?' asked Nick, turning to face the man.
'I was otherwise occupied,' said Mycroft, 'I was also fairly sure my talents would be rather unhelpful in a battle situation. Am I right, Sherlock?'
Sherlock nodded before putting his hand to his own earpiece. 'Tony, get Bruce back as quickly as possible.' He took his hand away again. 'Moriarty won't wait much longer to enact his plans, not now that he's been at a disadvantage. We'll be lucky if we're not in the middle of a war by this time tomorrow.'
'You sure about that, Sherlock?' asked John, finishing his dressing of Jack's shoulder. Jack thanked him.
Mycroft turned to Dean. 'Would you suspect Crowley of acting similarly?'
'I'm surprised he hasn't already lit a fire under our asses,' said Dean, 'He's got demons coming out of his ears and we haven't seen them yet.'
'He's got to be hiding them somewhere,' said Sam, 'somewhere important.'
'It won't be obvious until right at the last second if Moriarty's got anything to do with it,' said John.
'Sherlock?' asked the Doctor. Sherlock's hands were poised in his typical thinking position, 'something to share?'
Sherlock shook his head. 'Not yet,' he said, 'I will soon.'
Their conversation continued, drifting through various ideas as to what had happened, and what was going to happen.
On the outside of the Helicarrier, Thor and Tony were having a bit of a difficult time with Bruce in Hulk form. He was hanging out of the chute the glass cage had fallen through, and was attempting to attack the pair of them without falling out of the ship.
'We've got to get the guy to jump ship,' said Tony.
'Would the fall not kill him?' yelled Thor, dealing a blow to the Hulk's right arm. He howled in pain.
'Don't think so,' said Tony, 'seriously, did no one else do the homework?' He raised his hands and blasted the Hulk as he rolled through the air, attempting to dodge the Hulk's fists.
'What is this homework?' asked Thor. He leapt out of the Helicarrier, hammer spinning above his head.
'Later, Thor,' said Tony, 'Ok, this isn't working.'
Tony zoomed backwards, indicating that Thor should do the same. Thor moved backwards, behind Tony, waiting for him to enact whatever plan he'd decided on.
'What exactly…' began Thor, before Tony's suit shifted, revealing the most powerful missile packed into it. The missile flew out, aimed directly at the Hulk. It collided, setting off flames, smoke and an almighty roar.
The Hulk leapt out of the smoke, heading directly for Tony. Tony put the thrusters on full, heading backwards as quickly as he could. Unfortunately for him, this didn't mean escaping from the enormous oncoming green Hulk heading towards him; it meant crashing at full speed backwards into Thor.
Turns out, crashing into a Norse God was a little like crashing backwards into a concrete wall.
Thor, on the other hand, was thinking that having a flying metal man crashing into you at full speed was a bit like having a castle fall on you.
Mjolnir went flying off towards the Hulk, knocking him directly in the stomach and slowing his progress towards him. Suddenly, he was in empty sky without the motion to get to Tony and Thor, nor the reach to grab hold of the Helicarrier.
The Hulk fell out of the sky.
'Ah, Thor, buddy?' said Tony, the thrusters struggling under their weight. Thor had gripped Tony's Iron Man suit in an attempt to stay upright.
'My apologies,' said Thor, Mjolnir flying back into his hand, 'We should slow Doctor Banner's fall, or at least ensure his safe landing.'
'On it,' said Tony, flipping over and zooming to catch up with the Hulk. Thor turned and flew back into the Helicarrier.
Hopefully Bruce would be unharmed. Though, as Tony firmly believed, the Hulk was probably keeping Bruce alive.
'You do know it's about eight in the morning?' said Crowley, feet resting on the couch, hot chocolate in hand.
While the apartment they'd landed in was well decorated and currently uninhabited, the heating was, as far as these three were concerned, subpar. The three of them had examined the cupboards and found that, instead of tea or coffee, the extent of their warm drink choices was hot chocolate or boiling water.
Crowley had shrugged and started making three of them. Loki and Moriarty pointedly avoided each other's gaze as they drank what they considered to be their incredibly childish drinks. It was bad enough to start with before Crowley'd found a packet of marshmallows and filled the top centimetre of their mugs with the things.
Not one of the three of them would admit that they were thoroughly enjoying their drinks.
'What of the time?' asked Loki.
'You said we'd fight tomorrow,' said Crowley, 'and tomorrow is a whole twenty four hours away.
'We have just returned from the cage,' said Moriarty, speaking as though Loki hadn't freed them but they'd somehow escaped under their own steam, 'We could use the time to formalise and finish our plans.'
'I'm up for that,' said Crowley, and Loki nodded, seemingly reluctantly.
Once again, their minds were all on the same wavelength, but they refused to admit it. They could certainly use a break.
Bruce woke up covered in a blanket, lying in a field of grass. The last thing he remembered was turning into the Hulk…
'God I hope no one's hurt,' he said, drawing his hand across his forehead.
'They're fine,' said Tony. Bruce rolled his head to the side and saw Tony sitting on a rock in his Iron Man suit, helmet lying on the ground beside him. Tony threw a pair of jeans in Bruce's direction.
'I'm not looking,' he said, covering his eyes and turning around on the rock to face the other direction.
Bruce was a bit stumped, but pulled on the jeans under the blanket.
'What happened?' asked Bruce, pulling the blanket around his shoulders.
'You lost it,' said Tony, 'Thor and I stopped you from hurting anyone.'
'And how did you manage that?'
'We sort of got you to fall out of the Helicarrier,' said Tony, shrugging. 'No biggie.'
Bruce chuckled. He still felt dreadful, but at least they'd managed to stop him from doing much damage.
'Ready for take-off?' asked Tony, grabbing his helmet off the ground and snapping it onto his head.
'Sure,' said Bruce.
'Hold on,' said Tony, and Bruce grabbed him around the waist.
'Well, this is awkward,' said Tony, before taking off and flying, somewhat more slowly than usual, towards the Helicarrier.
Almost immediately after their arrival, Tony and Bruce were ushered into the lab. Sherlock was standing in the room, mask over his face as he carefully examined some metal.
'This war could start at any time,' said Nick, 'Work fast, work hard.'
'Anyone up for an all-nighter?' asked Tony.
Sherlock raised his eyebrow as though he hardly understood the concept of not staying up all night. Bruce nodded, picking up the metal Sherlock had been looking at.
'Right, guys,' said Tony, clapping his hands together, 'I get out of the suit, and we get to work.'
They may not have stayed up all night, but they certainly worked until they'd perfected a prototype.
Neither the frost giants nor the demons were ever going to know what hit them.
'Only those three could build the weapon we need in time,' said Nick, returning to the table. Almost everyone around the table was visibly tired; Natasha was still completely awake, as was Mycroft, but everyone else desperately needed some sleep.
'Off to bed, I think,' said John. He'd already made everyone tea and the lot of them had been chatting for far too long.
The rest of the Avengers, generally muttering the ends of their conversations, got up and headed for the Tardis, knowing that the rooms in there were far more tailored to their needs than the barrack-like rooms the Helicarrier had for them.
The next day, as far as they were concerned, was crunch time.
It hadn't been the easiest of takeovers, reflected Loki. Moriarty's cunning combined with Crowley's demons would soon topple military systems all over the world. His own frost giants were itching for war, extremely excited to be entering a new realm. Those that had provided the distraction (and lived; three had been killed by some unfortunately, excellent fighting on Thor and Captain America's part).
The Avengers had fought against their progress valiantly. Capturing Moriarty and Crowley had been, according to Loki, more hilarious than inconvenient, but it hadn't stopped him from becoming mad at the pair of them regardless. Crowley in particular was furious at the Avengers at this point; as he'd mentioned far too often for Moriarty and Loki to be bothered caring about, that house of his had taken years to build, prepare and look after. And now that the location had made the news, there was no way he'd be able to build it again.
The war hadn't even technically started yet. But by Valhalla it was already getting tiring.
Snow was falling softly outside as the sun set behind the mountains. Loki was wandering towards the kitchen, hoping for a drink that wasn't full of marshmallows, when he happened to glance in through the door of what he'd thought was an empty room. As it turns out, Moriarty was in there. And what… was Moriarty dancing?
Loki nudged open the door to the room to watch Moriarty half ballroom dance, half improvise his dancing, his eyes closed. He was smiling, movements perfectly controlled.
He stood at the door, staring in disbelief as Moriarty followed all the patterns of the music. He stared long enough that Crowley noticed and came up to have a look at what was going on.
'Oh, the Thieving Magpie!' said Crowley, walking into the room with confidence and a huge grin on his face, 'I love this one!'
'Do you now?' asked Moriarty, his eyes opening just a fraction, 'Go on then.'
Without quite as much grace as Moriarty, Crowley started dancing around the room as well. Eventually, after nearly colliding, they joined hands for a moment before waltzing away on their own again.
'Come on, Loki,' said Crowley, beckoning towards Loki in as inviting a way as he could.
'Your idea of dancing in an apartment in the snow is ridiculous, and it would…'
'Dance, mischief-man,' said Crowley, pulling Loki into the room behind him and pulling him around the room. After less than ten seconds, Loki had freed himself from Crowley's grasp and walked off towards a corner.
No one could tell that he was hiding a smirk, and that his foot was consistently tapping to the beat of the music.
And the God of Mischief, the King of Hell, and the Napoleon of Crime danced well into the night.
And with this, we've caught up to fanfiction.net. Updates may take a bit longer from this point, but I try and post at least twice a week.
Chapter 17: Crunch Time
When Crowley woke the next morning, Loki and Moriarty were already sitting in the lounge of the apartment they were in. Loki was tapping his sceptre against his foot, while Moriarty's fingers were dancing over the screen of his phone.
'Ready?' Loki asked Crowley somewhat impatiently.
'Sure,' said Crowley.
Moriarty grinned and raised the phone to his ear. Loki sat and closed his eyes; Crowley had learnt that this was how he communicated with Jotunheim without using up a great deal of energy to travel between the realms.
Crowley pulled out his own phone and sent a mass text out to the demons possessing military leaders across the world. Why go to the trouble of using blood when they've all got phones anyway, Crowley thought to himself.
'Why hello there, Mycroft,' said Moriarty, grinning.
It started unceremoniously, without warning, and no matter how prepared the Avengers thought they were for war to start, they never would have expected how quickly everything happened.
And it started with a phone call.
Several phone calls, actually.
It was lunch time the day after they'd gone after the frost giants in Scotland, and the lot of them were sitting around the table to eat. Tony, Bruce and Sherlock had each slept for about four hours since that morning, though only after being sure that someone was willing to produce enough of their supercritical holy water weapons. In the end, Phil Coulson had been woken up at five in the morning, brought down to the lab and put in charge of getting as many of the things made in as short a time as possible.
It was to Phil's everlasting patience and skills that the team he had working on them had built nearly twenty by the time the three of them had woken up from their respective naps.
The first was phone call to John's phone. He picked it up, and of course it wasn't something simple like the surgery giving him a raise, or Mike asking to meet him for a pint. It was Lestrade.
Without even waiting for a greeting, Lestrade started talking.
'John, those frost giants, they've… well, I'm not really that into American politics but there're about a hundred of the things walking around Washington at the moment and we can't really pass them off as hallucinations anymore. I'd get onto defence but not a single bloke in charge of it's in today, every time I try calling someone they say they're off sick.'
At the same time as John got this phone call, Dean's phone went off. He grabbed it out of his pocket and flipped it open.
'Dean, it's Bobby. You know what's going on with all these giants walking around Washington? Couple of hunters called me about it, thought you might know something?'
The third, oddly enough, was to Jack. Through a combination of the sheer amount of people's numbers the Avengers assumed he'd go through, and the fact that he seemed far too technologically advanced with weaponry to have something as mundane as a mobile phone, no one had thought he owned one.
'Captain Jack Harkness.'
'Jack,' said Gwen, her voice frantic, 'UNIT called. Well, Martha Jones called. She was talking about aliens all over Washington, and they're yelling something to do with hallucinogenic drugs?'
The fourth was to Nick Fury.
'Director Fury,' said the head of the council at SHIELD (not that he'd bothered speaking to them since getting the Avengers Initiative underway; Mycroft had assured him that he'd make sure they wouldn't actually notice it happening) 'we've got a situation. Normally we wouldn't bother calling, but not a single military man's showed up for work and we need to stop an invading alien force.' They were clearly going for the shock factor, and were rather disappointed at the lack of it.
The fifth and final phone call came only a second after the first four, and this one was a call to Mycroft.
'Well well well, Mycroft Holmes,' said Moriarty from god knows where, 'enjoying dealing with the giants, are we? So glad no one knows not to panic, what with them being hallucinations.'
Mycroft's entire body became perfectly still. He was hardly even breathing. Everyone turned to stare at him. Those on the other end of the phone lines shouted the names of those they were speaking to down the line, trying to capture their attention.
But there was something far too captivating about the omniscient man struck down by a couple of sentences spoken over the phone.
'How did you get this number?' asked Mycroft, in an attempt at sounding calm.
'Sherlock didn't manage to destroy every strand of my web, Mycroft,' said Moriarty, 'Put me on to him, would you? I'm simply dying to speak to him.'
Wordlessly, Mycroft passed the phone across the table to his brother. The Avengers eyed it as though it was toxic. Of course, Sherlock had already deduced the caller.
'Why hello there, Sherlock!' said Moriarty, 'miss me? Enjoying the challenge I set up for you? It's the whole reason I came back, you know. It was so boring down there. In hell.'
'Sherlock, there are frost giants all over Washington,' said Jack, pulling Sherlock's attention away from the phone, 'and not a single person seems to be doing a thing about it.'
Tony had given up. He leant over and snatched the phone out of Sherlock's frozen hand.
'Listen, Marty,' said Tony, intentionally wrecking the name in a shocking attempt to piss the guy off, 'We can handle anything you can throw at us.'
'Better get to Washington then, Stark,' said Moriarty, 'Frost giants attack in three… two… one…'
The line to Moriarty cut out. The other four phones went haywire.
'John, they've started attacking…'
'Jack, Martha's calling again, I think it's getting worse…'
'Director, immediate action is required…'
'Dean, for hell's sake talk would you, idjit…'
The table discussion wasn't much better. Everyone was talking, all at once; Tony was complaining, Steve talking about potential plans. John was too busy keeping Bruce calm to think about talking to Lestrade, while Natasha argued with Sam over what action they should take. Coulson, rather intelligently, immediately jumped up and went to fetch the weapons, though no one even thought to ask where he'd gone until, finally…
'Everyone, quiet!' yelled the Doctor, standing up and leaning over the table to stare at everyone. Silence fell around the table. He pulled out his sonic screwdriver and waved it at the phones.
'Alright,' he said, 'Everyone listen to Captain Rogers. Steve, go.'
The Doctor sat down, and a somewhat bewildered Steve stood up and started talking.
'Ok everyone,' he said, 'those here who can fight, suit up. Those who can't, get in the Tardis, it's the safest place… who am I talking to on the phones?'
The answers came rapidly, and Steve asked them all to be quiet.
'One at a time, give them what they need,' said Steve, looking at those who were on the phones to the others.
'Bobby, we've got a plate full of frost giants with a side helping of demons,' said Dean, 'And we haven't got a freaking clue where they are. Call as many hunters as you can, tell them what's going on. '
'On it,' said Bobby, his phone disconnecting.
'Commander, no weaponry we've developed is going to put a scratch on these guys,' said Nick.
'Director, I refuse to let you handle this without first going through our…'
Nick rolled his eyes and hung up the phone. Mycroft's mouth twitched in a slight grin.
'Gwen, Torchwood can't help,' said Jack, looking to Steve to make sure he approved, 'But call UNIT, get them onto this; get them to call either me or the Doctor.'
'Lestrade, let the public know,' said Steve, 'these creatures aren't hallucinations; they're real. Get them hiding, get them off the streets, whatever you can do.'
'I don't have much say in Washington, you realise?' Lestrade pointed out.
'Detective Inspector, files are being sent to your email account,' said Mycroft, typing away on his second phone, 'Call the number indicated and give the codes and identification as directed.'
Somewhere, far away from the Helicarrier, Lestrade was shaking his head in complete disbelief at the way this had turned out.
'Sure, Mr Holmes,' said Lestrade, 'I'll get onto that.'
'Why do we need to put Lestrade in charge of police forces in Washington anyway?' asked John, 'Surely their lot could handle it?'
'Not a single man in charge of any branch of the police department in Washington has shown up for work this morning,' said Nick, sliding his phone over to John to show him the endless supply of emails, 'We need someone who knows what they're doing.'
'I have further patience for these politics,' he said, 'Doctor, take us to Washington. We must stop the frost giants before they cause damage to this realm.'
Tony jumped up, clapped his hands and said 'You heard the man, suit up!'
'Good luck to you all,' said Mycroft, 'You know how I despise legwork.'
'You just know you're useless at the good stuff, fancy-pants,' said Tony.
Everyone dashed towards the Tardis, Tony taking a minor detour to don his suit. You can imagine everyone's surprise, however, when they saw Phil leaning against the Tardis door, a pile of oddly-shaped black guns behind him.
'You took your time,' he said, 'Mr Barton, I took the liberty of filling your explosive arrowheads with holy water, but I suggest you take one for when they inevitably run out.' Clint nodded. 'Everyone else, take one.' He leant down, tossing the weapons to everyone as they boarded the ship.
Bruce, Tony, Sherlock and the Doctor each refused to take one. The Doctor's reasoning was his typical spiel about his intense dislike of guns. Bruce knew that if he was going to join this, it wouldn't be voluntarily, and there was no way he'd be able to operate the gun. Tony had already managed to incorporate holy water into his suit, and he'd had the chance to test the effectiveness of the blasters on frost giants.
Sherlock had simply rolled his eyes and refused to take one, offering no explanation.
Thor eyed the weapon with distaste, but accepted it as he had no experience fighting demons. Sam and Dean eyed them appreciatively. Natasha accepted it and immediately set about learning exactly how it worked. Nick and John took one each for themselves, though it was more for precaution than anything else; neither expected to be doing a great deal of the actual fighting.
To everyone's surprise, Coulson picked up a gun and leapt into the Tardis with them.
'Agent Coulson, I really don't think…' started Nick.
'Half these men are perfectly ordinary humans, sir,' said Phil, 'I'm helping.' He swung the gun over his shoulder and walked over to stand by the Tardis console.
'Everyone in?' asked the Doctor, glancing around to check, 'Earpieces back on, you're going to need them. Ok, Washington DC, here we go.'
The blue police box materialised in the city. Slowly, the door opened.
It was chaos in the city. There were frost giants everywhere; the report of there being a hundred of them was quickly forgotten and replaced with a number closer to a thousand. At least, if there were this many in this one specific street they had landed in, you could be damned sure that there weren't just a hundred in the rest of the city.
Those who could fight sprung out; Thor and Tony shot into the sky, flying off in different directions; each was simultaneously trying to assess the damage and destroy as many frost giants as they could. Within minutes, grey clouds had amassed around the city, and lightning shot down to the ground; Sam had to explain to Dean what exactly caused the sudden storm.
Natasha dashed through the street and rounded a corner, immediately coming face to face with a frost giant, club raised and aimed directly at her. She planted her feet, steadied herself, raised the weapon she'd been given and pulled the trigger.
It wasn't the kindest of weapons, thought Natasha as the giant's blue skin started disintegrating, leaving burn marks across its chest.
Sam and Dean ran off in the same direction, making a mutual, unspoken agreement to back each other up and follow each other as long as they could see what they were doing.
Coulson marched out of the Tardis and very carefully started shooting. Tony caught a glimpse of him as he was tearing through the streets and smiled. That guy really needed to take some time off. First thing after this battle, Tony was buying him a ticket to Portland.
Steve rushed out, shield in one hand, the gun he appeared to be incredibly uncomfortable with in the other. He raced in Natasha's direction, figuring it was better for them to team up than split up. Jack ran after him, looking far more comfortable with the weapon, dodging and shooting at frost giants as he went.
John, Sherlock, Bruce and Nick had stayed in the Tardis with the Doctor. For the moment, especially, there was nothing they could do.
The combined hordes of Genghis Khan may not have been able to get through the door to the Tardis, but the Doctor wasn't so sure about the combined hordes of Jotunheim.
'Don't worry, we're not going too far,' said the Doctor, as John had leapt up indignantly when he saw the Doctor go for the controls, 'Just out of the way of the fighting.' The Tardis lurched, and Sherlock threw his arm out to catch a lever, pulling on it sharply and stabilising the flight.
'Watch it, you,' said the Doctor as Sherlock smirked in triumph.
The Tardis floated above Washington, keeping an eye on the battle. Which gave them the perfect vantage point to see exactly what happened next.
See, Crowley had only used a fraction of the demons he could control to effectively disable any major military action.
'Do you think they suspect?' asked Moriarty. He didn't bother asking how Crowley knew how to fly a helicopter; he was too revelling in how perfectly the Avengers had walked into Washington and started being all heroic. It was as if they wanted this to be made more difficult for them.
'Of course they don't suspect,' said Loki, his sceptre in hand, 'they would never think to plan for what we have prepared for them.' For pure convenience of observation, the trio had left the door of the helicopter open, assuming that you'd have to be an idiot to fall from it. Loki was leaning comfortably out of the helicopter, holding on to the top of the door frame, glancing out at the havoc that the frost giants were wreaking on the city.
'Your army ready for mine, Loki?' asked Crowley, yelling from the pilot's chair. It was debatable as to whether he was actually flying the helicopter or simply reclining in his chair and somehow controlling it with his mind.
'Send them in,' said Loki, 'and I'll send the rest.'
'Ah, Doctor?' asked John, having opened the door to the Tardis, 'Something's changed.'
The Doctor looked to the console, not particularly comfortable abandoning it while it was in flight. Sherlock rolled his eyes. 'Consider it taken care of,' he said, moving closer to the controls. John shook his head in disbelief at how quickly the man had managed to somehow pick up an alien time machine control panel.
The Doctor dashed to the door and stared out, John and Bruce on either side of him.
What looked like black smoke was pouring out of the sky, assembling in a seemingly random position before drifting down to the battle below.
'Is this black smoke some sort of earthy weather pattern?' asked Thor, utterly bewildered. The others were simply surprised that he'd managed to get his earpiece working.
'Oh shit,' said Dean, 'demons.'
'Those are demons?' asked Natasha.
'Sort of,' said Sam, 'Dammit Dean, we should have made them get anti-possession tattoos.'
'No time,' said Dean, 'Don't let the stuff near you if you can help it, guys. Pretty soon we're going to be dealing with a whole crap tonne of demons to add to this.'
'Or they could be possessing the frost giants,' said Clint, 'does the smoke get to them through their mouths?'
'Well, there are a whole lot of them at my end being possessed then,' said Clint, 'I'm guessing you can't kill these things with an arrow to the eye, can you?'
'Damned hard to kill,' said Dean, 'They've got psychic throwing abilities, bullets don't stop them… best bet's exorcism, but we don't… HOLY SHIT!'
A blast from a gun was heard, and Dean got back on the line.
'Sorry,' he said, not sounding particularly apologetic, 'Slow 'em with the guns, kill 'em with the demon knife, but we've got one of those between the lot of us.'
'I need it,' said Tony.
'No,' said Sam, 'I'm keeping this one.'
'Less talking, more helping,' said Steve, his voice surrounded by the blasts of what were presumably Jack and Natasha's weapons.
'Guys, there's a helicopter flying in,' said Tony, 'I'm gonna go check it out.'
Tony's suit flew off towards a helicopter they could just see behind the layers of smoke floating down to earth.
'Mycroft, what now?' asked Nick, phone to his ear.
'Director Fury, they're everywhere. They've expanded to Beijing, Sydney... it's a disaster. How soon will the situation in Washington be handled?'
'Not soon, Mycroft,' said Nick, looking out at the devastation below him, 'Not soon at all.'
As Sam had gone dashing down the street, Dean's path to follow him had been cut off by a particularly fast frost giant. This one, as yet, wasn't possessed; its eyes were quite clearly the dull grey of a frost giant as its club swung round and knocked Dean's gun out of his hands.
He'd been backed into a corner as the frost giant advanced. Though Dean searched his pockets, there wasn't a weapon contained in them he could use.
The frost giant raised its club and Dean raised his hands to cover his head. He closed his eyes.
There was a flash of white light and suddenly, Castiel stood in front of him, and to Dean's great surprise his wings were not only visible but apparently corporeal, blocking the frost giant's view of the hunter. Dean looked up, but Castiel was turned away from him.
'Go back to your own realm,' said Castiel, using his most threatening voice, eyes trained on the alien invader.
The frost giant chuckled and shook its head. To be fair to the frost giant, Castiel looked like a regular human who just so happened to have wings. There was no way it could have known how powerful the angel really was.
Castiel flicked his angel blade out from his sleeve, leapt into the air with the aid of his wings, and stabbed the frost giant through the eye before it had time to blink. It roared, falling to the ground in agony.
Effortlessly, Castiel leapt from the frost giant and landed in front of Dean.
'I thought you could use the help,' said Castiel, his angel blade stained with blood.
'I thought you'd never offer,' said Dean, 'come on.' He picked up his gun again, swinging it over the shoulder.
'Guys,' said Dean, his hand pressed to his ear piece, 'We've got an angel on our side.' His announcement was met with a collective cheer and a fresh bolt of lightning shooting out of the sky.
'Watch out, fellas,' said Crowley, still lounging in his chair as though flying a helicopter was a piece of cake, 'Iron Man headed our way.' The helicopter rotated to the right, giving Loki and Moriarty a clear view of the incoming trouble.
All around the Avengers, in streets they hadn't reached yet, frost giants were crouching and their eyes were rolling over to black as wide, manic grins were appearing on their faces.
Buildings were collapsing, and people were running everywhere. It was getting difficult to navigate their way through the streets between rushing past panicking people, dodging blows from clubs made from ice and now, flying debris aimed in their direction by the demon-possessed.
Well, this was going to be interesting.
Chapter 18: Angelic Interference
'Cas, what's with the wings?' asked Dean, staring at the feathers as he checked his gun for damage.
They disappeared instantly. 'My apologies,' said Castiel, 'the war in heaven is ongoing, and I was in the middle of it. I wasn't entirely focused on my arrival here; this happens rarely, but it does happen.' He looked around at the ruined buildings, the bodies of frost giants, and the still floating black smoke everywhere, something like serenity on his face.
'Mind helping us with the demons?' asked Dean.
Castiel's wings returned. 'These should make things easier.'
He flew into the air, dashing through the black smoke, always leaving clear sky in his wake.
Tony was still a hundred metres away from that blasted helicopter when he saw who was inside it.
He had several options. Blowing the helicopter out of the sky didn't sound particularly satisfying. Moriarty was a simple human, and wouldn't present much of a challenge. Crowley was stupid enough to fall for the most basic trap they could set for the guy.
Loki, then. Tony landed inside the helicopter.
'Evening gentlemen,' he said, before raising his arms and blasting Loki. Loki went crashing through the other side of the helicopter, leaving behind a massive hole, before he went plummeting towards the ground.
Loki's form vanished in mid-air, his sceptre flashing bring blue as he did so. He appeared three buildings away, perched on the roof, glaring at Stark. He raised his sceptre and aimed it directly at the helicopter.
Tony leapt out of the helicopter, thrusters engaging and sending him shooting towards Loki. The blast aimed at him sheared straight through the blades of the helicopter, rendering it completely useless.
Crowley rushed into the back, fighting the momentum of the falling helicopter, and grabbed Moriarty's arm, sending them to a building several blocks away.
'I am going to KILL him,' said Crowley, fuming.
The demons panicked at Castiel's interference. Even as smoke, Castiel was a household name among angels after the last few years, and the demons both recognised and feared him.
This meant that the demons gave up trying to latch onto the frost giants they'd been assigned to. The nearest living bodies they could inhabit were now fair game for every demon. And considering that every living human on the streets was panicking, terrified of the monsters that had invaded their world, the demons found this far easier than they would have normally.
Everywhere, people who were running in fear towards buildings and underground stations suddenly inhaled the black smoke, stopped, and turned, their eyes black. They headed into the fray.
Natasha was the first to spot one of these demons.
'Ah, Captain Rogers?' she asked, her hand over her ear, 'Demons are possessing humans now, I assume. Orders?'
Steve paused for a moment. 'Not sure,' he said, raising his shield to block himself from a weapon forged from ice, 'Winchesters? Doctor?'
'How is this any different to using those guns on frost giants?' asked the Doctor, almost shouting at them through their headphones. He was staring at the wreckage, one hand on his ear to talk to the warriors on the ground, 'There are bodies lying all over this city, and the fact that those bodies aren't human doesn't make this more right.'
After a pause, Sam's voice came over the line. 'We don't have time to exorcise them. Just… try and avoid them for now.'
'Put the Tardis down,' said Sherlock firmly. When the Doctor didn't respond, he leant over the console himself, pulling at levers and dashing around the controls until the Tardis had fallen through the air and landed firmly on the ground. Clint was right beside where they'd landed; he looked at them in complete confusion.
'Holmes, what the hell are you playing at?' asked Nick, watching as Sherlock took his hands off the controls and rushed out of the Tardis.
He began dashing through the streets and speaking in a foreign language. It took John a few seconds to catch on to what he was doing.
'Sherlock, you can't fight in a war by yelling Latin at demons!'
'Can't I?' said Sherlock, smirking. He was completely unprotected, wasn't wielding a gun; to a casual observer, he looked like another civilian fleeing the battle scene. The demons thought as much; Sherlock wasn't exactly a face they knew. This worked well to Sherlock's advantage; as he went, black smoke started pouring out of the mouths of unwary demons, leaving unconscious (but alive) hosts behind.
He wasn't going to be able to cover much ground without transport, but he sure as hell was making a difference where he went.
'Dammit, you git,' said John, before pulling his gun down from his shoulder and running after Sherlock. Without much thought, Nick followed the pair of them out, raising his own gun and protecting Sherlock as best he could from the
The Doctor made to walk out of the Tardis himself when Clint walked right up to him, put his hand out and held the Doctor in place.
'I could help,' said the Doctor desperately.
'You've got a screwdriver,' said Clint, pushing him back into the Tardis, 'You really couldn't. Fly me around; I'll do better from a distance.' He stepped inside the Tardis himself, crouching near the door and nocking an arrow.
The Doctor ran back into the Tardis, grabbed the controls and lifted her into the air.
'How the hell did he learn that spell in the time we had?' Clint asked the Doctor.
The Doctor shrugged. Sherlock learnt things more quickly than anyone he'd seen; between flying the Tardis and exorcising the demons, he was exceptionally useful for an "ordinary" human.
Bruce was still in the Tardis, looking more and more anxious as time went on. He was sitting by the console, taking care not to get in the Doctor's way. The Doctor looked at him with sympathy.
The Doctor's face was grim as Clint started shooting at the frost giants they passed. He didn't approve of the war, not in the slightest. But he had little choice in the matter. For once, the inhabitants of Earth had chosen to save it themselves.
Loki was more than ready to battle Stark, which was why he was so surprised when the man landed and his helmet clicked up, leaving his face bare, more suited to chatting with Loki.
'You've already lost,' said Loki, sceptre still pointed directly at Stark, just in case he tried anything, 'You can't even save one, tiny city; how are you supposed to save your entire realm?'
Tony shrugged. 'We're getting there.'
Loki raised an eyebrow. 'You're not. My armies surround your pitiful band of warriors. You cannot win. What have I to fear?
'Let's do a head count,' said Tony, 'A couple of master assassins. A demigod, your own brother. A living legend who kind of lives up to the legend, and an agent determined to show off in front of him. A guy with frankly incredible anger management issues. A consulting detective and an army doctor. An intergalactic con man and an alien with a time machine. A couple of boys who've lived through hell. Not to mention me, of course.' He gestured at his own suit, highlighting himself as someone who was clearly a very important figure.
'As you said yourself, I have an army.'
'We have an angel.'
'You're stalling,' said Loki, and with no further comment he let a burst of energy out of his sceptre, hitting Tony squarely in the chest. He tumbled over the edge of the building, only picking himself up halfway to the ground.
'Guys,' said Tony to his earpiece, 'I'm going to need some help over here.'
'Loki?' asked Thor, and Tony saw the god emerge from between tall buildings a few streets away.
'I will offer my assistance,' said Castiel, though none of them had figured out how he'd managed to tap into their earpiece communications.
'Everyone,' said Phil's voice, 'I'm going to need some help too.'
'On it,' said the Doctor, aiming to pluck him out of whatever street he'd been backed into.
Crowley watched Loki fighting Iron Man in the distance, their position clear from the flashes of blue and white light. He frowned, still absolutely fuming at Moriarty.
Thor was approaching the fighting pair.
'I'm going over there,' said Crowley.
Moriarty caught on immediately. 'Oh, no,' he said, 'That's not a good idea, Crowley. You know what's going to happen.'
Crowley scoffed and vanished nonetheless. Moriarty swore quietly. He looked around him, trying to find an escape route from the top of the building, before deciding it may well be safest to stay exactly where he was.
He sat down at the edge of the building, legs dangling over the edge. Didn't this bring back some distant memories…
Thor arrived just in time to see Tony get shot in the chest; again. His thrusters temporarily spluttered out and he landed on the opposite corner of the roof to Loki, on his side, his suit smoking slightly.
Loki turned, grinning, to see Mjolnir headed straight for him. He ducked and rolled, escaping the hammer, and rolling to his feet just in time to raise his sceptre and deflect Thor's leading strike.
Thor looked furious. He raised his hammer again, and the battle between them continued. After ducking, dodging and weaving for less than two minutes, it became clear that neither was going to win this particular one. They were too evenly matched.
Both of them stopped when a snake-like voice announced 'You have a right to be angry, you know, Thor.'
Loki stopped in his tracks. Crowley, the bastard, was standing on the building, Tony on one side and Thor and Loki on the other. He seemed relatively unconcerned.
'What makes you say that, demon?' asked Thor. He was by no means lowering his defences; his hammer was still raised, ready to fend off any surprise attack that might be sprung on him.
'Ask him what he traded for our Consulting Criminal,' said Crowley, 'He was dead, you know. And I only trade souls for souls.'
'The angel said a thousand and one souls from Jotunheim,' said Thor, vaguely confused at the relevance of the conversation.
'The angel?' asked Crowley, '…ah. Castiel. And he was wrong. A thousand souls from Jotunheim. Care to guess the last?'
Thor turned to Loki with an expression of fury. Granted, he didn't immediately jump to the conclusion that Loki had sold his soul to this mad man in exchange for a crazed Irish man, but the options were limited; Odin. Their mother. Himself. Or, god forbid, it could have been Jane.
Loki's expression was apologetic for a fraction of a millisecond, before he marshalled his inane grin back to his face. Multiple images of Loki began to spring up, and Loki himself vanished and reappeared on the roof of the building across the street.
As lightning tore from the clouds and blasted away the crowd of Loki images, Loki laughed. Thor turned around furiously, looking for the real Loki, only to spot him across the street. Thor began to swing Mjolnir in a circle, ready to fly over and stop him.
Loki grinned, holding his sceptre out. 'Come on, Thor,' he yelled, his voice cracking with madness, 'Is that really the best you can do?'
'It probably isn't,' said a voice behind Loki, and he turned rapidly.
Behind him was a man. A man with wings; an angel, then. Loki had never met an angel, though he had been to Earth more than once, a very long time ago. He knew they could be defeated only be the blade that they themselves carried; this meant that Loki was going to have to be particularly sneaky to snatch the blade from the angel and use it on him.
'My name is Castiel,' he said, 'And I'm asking you to stop this.'
'Stop?' asked Loki, completely disbelieving, 'It's too late to stop. Look around you. You really think that, having come this far, I would just turn around and leave?'
With a sigh, Castiel flicked the angel blade out. 'Then I am sorry.'
He lunged, and Loki vanished. But what Loki didn't know, not in the slightest, and he'd never have guessed in a million years, was that Castiel would be able to follow him.
About two seconds after Loki emerged on top of a building two streets away, Castiel appeared in front of him, angel blade raised to strike. Loki blocked it, and fended off another couple of attacks, before vanishing again.
How about upping the stakes, he'd thought as he materialised in the foyer of the Empire State building.
He turned around to survey his surroundings and there was the angel again, blade still in hand, fight still in progress. Loki started to panic. He tried to summon an image of himself to at least disorient the angel, but Castiel was able to tell the difference and dispatch the fake with a twitch of his feathery wings.
And so it went. The state wasn't enough, so Loki disappeared and reappeared on a beach on the west coast of the United States, only to find the angel in the trench coat had reappeared along with him and hadn't broken his fighting pattern. Loki was using the sceptre far more for advance than attack as he danced around on the sand, terrifying the beach goers, those who hadn't heard of the chaos in several major cities around the world.
Loki's next choice was a bit further; the central platform of the Eiffel tower. Here, frost giants were certainly sweeping the streets (though in far fewer numbers than they were in New York), but this was nowhere near as spectacular as the light show put on by the fighting pair of pseudo-immortals.
It continued; a street in London. The top of the Opera house. Memorably, a quiet house in China where a family was eating dinner and certainly did not expect to see an angel fighting an Asgardian.
He'd reappeared in New York, at the same building they started at, when Castiel managed to knock the sceptre out of Loki's hands. Frantically, Loki dashed for it, but Castiel swept past him and plucked it from the ground.
'So,' said Castiel the second he touched it, comprehension lining his features, 'This is the source of your teleporting abilities?'
Loki scowled and launched himself at Castiel, using a dagger pulled from his belt. With hardly any effort, Castiel tossed Loki aside as he continued to examine the sceptre.
'I must return to heaven,' said Castiel, looking at the fuming man on the floor, 'Even the limited time I have spent here may have turned the tide of the battle. But I hope that I have at least made things easier for the Avengers.'
With the sound of feathers, Castiel vanished. Loki winced and pulled himself upright.
Thor had gone off to continue fighting, apparently. Crowley was no longer on the rooftop opposite, and neither was Stark; Stark must have jumped back into the fray, while where Crowley was could have been anyone's guess.
Loki's dagger now being his only weapon, he dashed down the fire stairs of the buildings, hopefully to convince the frost giants to protect him while simultaneously maintaining their belief that he didn't need to be protected.
The Doctor was still flying Steve around when Castiel appeared in the Tardis, carrying Loki's sceptre.
'You got Loki?' asked the Doctor, vaguely dumbfounded.
'No,' said Castiel, 'I got his sceptre. The rest, I leave to your team. I have to return to the war in heaven.'
'You're going to win,' said the Doctor, his face breaking into his tell-tale grin.
'You're going to win, Castiel,' said the Doctor, 'But good luck anyway.'
Castiel smiled briefly before vanishing once more.
The Tardis was floating over Phil. He'd been backed into an alley and frost giants were closing in on either side of him.
The Doctor looked at the screen to see where he could land, but it didn't look promising. He was getting sandwiched, and the Doctor didn't have a single place to land.
Clint began firing off arrows, but there were far more giants than he was able to cope with.
'Phil,' said the Doctor, his hand over his ear, 'Hold on, Phil. We'll get you out.'
'That's ok, Doctor,' he said, 'I'll be alright.'
At this point, Bruce stood up, calmly heading for the exit of the Tardis.
'Banner, what the hell are you doing?' asked Clint, moving to block the entrance to the Tardis.
'Don't worry, Barton,' said Bruce, smiling, 'I know what I'm doing.'
He jumped clean over Clint and fell from the Tardis door as it was floating some twenty stories above the ground. Clint looked over the edge to see a flash of green, before Bruce erupted into the apparently lucid Hulk.
Phil was bracing for the impact of a frost giants club when quite suddenly, there was green.
The Hulk was standing next to him, leaning over him and shielding him from any hits he was about to receive. In fact, the Hulk was fractionally larger than the frost giants; giving him a perfect advantage over them.
'What just happened?' asked Clint, his hand over his ear, 'Could Bruce control the hulk before?'
'No,' said Sam, though everyone could hear Tony laughing in something that could be mistaken as triumph in the background, 'Is he out?'
'Well, yeah,' said Clint, 'but it's fine, he's ok, he's… he's protecting Coulson from a whole horde of the damned things.'
'Ok then, guys,' said Steve, 'Everyone, watch out for the hulk, but it should be fine. Hulk?'
To everyone's surprise, the Hulk grunted through his earpiece.
Once Coulson was safe, from where each of them was they could see their green friend springing out of the street he'd landed in and leaping onto buildings to get a better grasp of where everyone was.
Tony smirked inside his suit as he blasted another frost giant. He'd always guessed the guy had it in him.
'Mycroft?' asked Nick. He'd gotten another call from the man. Seriously? Didn't the British Government know when a guy was busy?
'Director Fury, while the situation in New York is far worse than the other cities the frost giants have invaded, I believe you must direct your attentions elsewhere.'
'Well I've got a better idea,' said Nick, 'How about we take care of Loki, send all the frost giants back to whatever hell they came from, get rid of these goddamn demons, and then I'll get back to you?'
Nick almost, almost would have sworn that he heard Mycroft chuckle.
'Good luck, Director. I'll contact you again, relatively soon.'
Nick hung up the phone and swung his gun around to meet yet another advancing frost giant.
Chapter 19: One Last Shot
Nick had rushed away from John and Sherlock a little while ago. Sherlock seemed to be walking through the streets aimlessly, until John saw him pause and stare at a rooftop.
Despite the distance, it took John less than a second to recognise the man sitting on top of the building with his legs dangling over the edge. He was exceptionally thankful that Sherlock was on the ground this time, rather than up there with that maniac.
Sherlock's near continuous stream of Latin faltered. He stared at the rooftop. Moriarty was looking far into the distance, clearly too absorbed to notice Sherlock and John in the street below.
Without so much as a sound Sherlock raced into the lobby of the building, managing to dodge the one demon-possessed human who'd tried to get in his way. John, seeing the gaping hole in the man's chest, shot at the demon, knowing (from what Dean had told them) that the host was already dead, before rushing after Sherlock. He followed him up the fire stairs, the lifts having lost power within minutes of the frost giants invading. John was fairly out of breath by the time he'd reached the top of the stairs.
Sherlock had opened the door quietly, but even amidst all of the chaos below, somehow Moriarty had managed to hear it.
'Good to see you've brought your pet doctor with you this time, Sherlock,' said Moriarty, maniac's grin plastered onto his face.
John raised the gun and pointed it directly at Moriarty, ignoring the insult. Sherlock was standing far enough aside that he wasn't at risk of getting shot at.
Moriarty took one glimpse at the gun and sighed, rolling his eyes. 'Supercritical liquids? Typical, typical. Boring, Sherlock.'
'It was John's idea, actually.'
'Gee, thanks for that Sherlock.'
'You won't use it, Johnny boy,' said Moriarty, pulling out a gun of his own and holding it loosely at his side; not a threat as yet, but the presence of something that could be. 'You're too righteous for that.'
John's handed drifted around to the lever used to operate the gun. 'Try me.'
'Oh, very good,' said Moriarty, smiling. 'You know, Sherlock; DI Lestrade hasn't managed to get anyone to help you, not a single person. And do you know why?'
Sherlock didn't ask, but that didn't stop Moriarty from telling him what he already knew. John had realised that it was most likely for his benefit. 'Demons, obviously. It was so, so easy.'
'You infiltrated every man who could help in every city you intended on invading,' said Sherlock, 'neat.'
'The others wouldn't have thought of it, obviously,' said Moriarty, 'Even the king of hell and the god of mischief were simply too… boring.'
'Enough, Moriarty,' said John, 'Call it off.'
'You see, Sherlock,' said Moriarty, completely ignoring John, 'This war, this little battle the Avengers are trying to fight; this is being screened worldwide, dear. Everywhere, every television, every radio station can hear the screaming. And they're all watching your team of broken heroes, trying to fight back. And you will lose, Sherlock. You'll all…'
Suddenly, without a hint of expectation, Moriarty's words were cut short; from his chest sprouted a perfectly mundane, regular arrowhead. Moriarty coughed once, doubling over in pain as he looked down at the arrow. A rather boring ending, he reflected as he fell to his knees.
'Of course,' he whispered, before keeling over and sprawling over the floor as he did on another rooftop two years ago.
For once, Sherlock's powers of observation escaped him as he stared at the twice-dead man on the roof. It was only John gently nudging him and pointing that made him look to the sky.
The Tardis was floating in the air silently behind Moriarty. Clint was perched at the door, his hand on his bow, staring at Moriarty's still form on the rooftop. He switched his sight over to John and Sherlock and smiled at them grimly.
'He didn't have a safeguard or anything, did he?' asked John, suddenly panicking as he remembered Sherlock's explanation of last time.
'He expected Crowley to protect him,' said Sherlock, 'Crowley's payment, I assume, is conditional on Moriarty remaining alive for as long as Loki wants him to be.'
John let out a sigh of relief.
'Moriarty's down,' said Clint over their headphone system, before extending his hand to Sherlock and John.
'Better get back to work,' he said. The Tardis moved over the roof and Sherlock and John stepped up into it, helped by Clint.
Crowley was dashing through the streets, trying desperately to find the Winchester brothers. They were here somewhere, fighting, destroying his army, HIS army, dammit. Presumably Sam had that blasted demon knife and was cutting demons down by the dozen. Crowley was furiously desperate to find them and, hopefully, kill them stone dead.
He really, really couldn't care less about Loki's, other than the fact that the souls of the first thousand frost giants to fall would be his. So long as Moriarty stayed alive.
This thought hit him like a tonne of bricks. He'd left Moriarty on the top of a building. He'd figured it'd be reasonably safe. But then again, there was Thor, and that blasted Iron Man, and…
Crowley suddenly halted in his tracks. He couldn't continue walking.
In a giant circle around him, a pentagram was burnt into the ground. In his blind rage against the Winchesters followed by the panic of knowing that Moriarty, and therefore his deal, was in danger, he'd completely missed it.
Crowley turned to see Iron Man landing on one edge of the circle Crowley assumed he'd drawn.
'You were right, Stark,' came a female voice from another side of the pentagram, 'He really is that stupid.'
'Told you,' said Tony as Crowley turned to look at Natasha.
'Natasha Romanov, right?' asked Crowley.
'For you, I'd prefer the name Black Widow,' said Natasha.
'You've got him?' asked another man, from behind Crowley as he faced Black Widow. He whipped around to face the man in the army coat.
'Captain Jack Harkness,' he said, grinning at Crowley, 'Heard the other two mention you on the plane.'
Though Tony's suit didn't have eyebrows, you could tell he was raising one. 'Really, Harkness? You stop mid-battle to flirt with one of the bad guys?'
'If you don't mind,' said Crowley, 'You knew I was coming this way how?'
'We figured it out,' said Natasha, 'you're not exactly unpredictable.'
'Thanks, Widow,' said Crowley, glaring at her. 'So what's the deal? What do I have to do to bust out of this thing?'
'Call off your demons,' said Iron Man, 'And we'll ditch the pentagram, leave Angel boy to deal with you when he wants to.'
'Oh yeah?' asked Crowley, 'Under whose authority did you make that call?'
'Mine,' said Steve, walking towards the pentagram, 'Romanov, Stark, get back to stopping those giants.'
Tony gave a sarcastic salute before flipping into the air and zooming through the street, taking out demon after demon. Natasha dashed after him, working somewhat less efficiently, but certainly with more accuracy, leaving no one conscious behind to follow her. They could hear the Hulk roar in the distance.
'Send your demons back to hell,' began Steve, 'And you leave everyone in this planet alone for a bit.'
Crowley looked around as though he was thinking. He even had the opportunity to pace; they'd drawn an extremely large pentagram. It covered nearly the entire street, leaving just enough room for the avengers to walk around it. Crowley wondered how quickly they must have drawn it for no other demons to get stuck inside.
'Sorry, Cap,' said Crowley, 'Nothing in that for me. You all know this is bringing me Jotun souls by the truck load; so why would I...?'
He didn't get to finish, because Jack interrupted. ''Cause fancy-pants Moriarty bit the dust five minutes ago.'
Jack stared as Crowley's expression turned shocked. 'Lost a fight to a guy with a bow and arrow,' said Jack, 'So sorry about that.'
Crowley kicked the only trash can he could reach within the pentagram in frustration. He'd lost, he'd lost, dammit, and it wasn't even his own doing; it was the fault of the mortal man he'd plucked from the pit with his own hands.
'You're allowed to swear, you know,' said Jack, 'let off a little steam.'
'Jack, stop,' said Steve, 'Crowley? What's it going to be?'
Crowley went over his options in his head while doing his best to kill Captain Rogers with a death glare. In essence, he was at their mercy. They could have the Winchesters come along and stab him with that infernal demon knife, if they wanted to. They could leave him in this pentagram for as long as they wanted. At the moment, Crowley was losing demons, and with no hope of a trade-off with the souls of Thor and the Jotuns…
'Fine,' he hissed, as though the words physically pained him to utter, 'Have your freaking planet back.'
Crowley concentrated inwardly, and from streets all around them, black smoke erupted from the mouths of humans and frost giants alike. Rather than blanketing the city as they did before, the smoke vanished at a point about five metres above the ground, indicating that the demons had, at least temporarily, returned to hell.
'Now let me out,' said Crowley.
Jack pointed his supercritical holy water gun at the ground and shot at the pentagram, leaving a smoking hole in Tony's extremely quick work. Crowley grinned, and vanished.
Though not before kicking Jack hard so his entire front was cracked against the ground. Just for good measure, thought Crowley as he returned to his neglected office in hell.
'Harkness! Jack, are you alright?' asked Steve, rushing over to check the fallen Captain. Steve rolled him over, immediately noticing his bloody nose and already-bruising forehead. He was apparently unconscious.
Steve turned and blocked an oncoming frost giant in an attempt to protect Jack while he inevitably healed himself in the way he usually did. Having had practise, it took Steve little over a minute to knock the giant to the ground, unconscious.
'Has anyone ever told you you've got an amazing ass?' said Jack from his spot on the ground behind Steve, sitting up to look at him. Steve laughed and extended a hand to Jack, helping to pull him upright. Jack himself laughed before rushing down the street in an attempt to find more as-yet-unvanquished frost giants.
'Crowley's gone back to hell,' said Steve, his hand pressed to his earpiece, 'Only Loki to go now. Where is he?'
The Doctor had attached Loki's sceptre to the console of the Tardis; partially for safe-keeping, partially to uncover how it worked and how they could possibly use it against him. The Tardis had been running the calculations in the background before finally beeping, alerting the Doctor to the results.
The Doctor, sonic screwdriver held between his teeth, dashed around the console to the display screen, and what he saw there made his face light up in a grin.
'Yes!' he shouted, not disturbing Clint in the slightest, 'Hah! You beauty!'
'What is it, Doctor?' asked John, staring at the screen he could never hope to decipher.
'The sceptre,' said the Doctor, 'If I'm very clever, which I am, I can calibrate the fields involved in inter-dimensional travel, pull a few switches and send the frost giants back to Jotunheim!'
'Better get started then,' said Clint. The Doctor pulled the screwdriver from his mouth and started manipulating the sceptre. Sherlock sighed and took over the controls, flying the Tardis in the directions Clint asked him to.
The last thing Dean Winchester expected to happen in a heated battle between demons, giants and a tiny team of superheroes was to cut down a frost giant himself only to notice that the villain they were fighting against, the villain who'd orchestrated this whole, sorry mess, was hiding behind the frost giant in an attempt not to be spotted by any of the Avengers.
Dean stared incredulously at the man just long enough for Loki to form an iced club of his own and direct it at Dean's skull.
Dean rolled sideways, missing the club by a hair's breadth. Hand to his ear immediately, he shouted 'Loki's… wherever the hell I am?'
'Helpful!' yelled the Doctor over their system, 'Where?'
Phil had only been a few metres behind Dean, and read the name off the nearest street sign.
'Wait until I get there,' said Thor's voice clearly, and they saw him shoot into the sky from a distant street.
'Bit difficult, Thunderhead!' yelled Dean as he tried to defend himself using his gun as a club. Loki, despite missing his staff, was moving far too quickly for Dean to be able to use the weapon for its intended purpose.
Sam, who'd been standing around thirty metres away from Dean, ran to help as, trying to use his own gun only to have Loki freeze it. He resorted to the same method as Dean, though he realised that he and his brother looked ridiculous, fending off a Norse god by using a pair of extremely hi-tech guns as clubs.
Phil's attempted use of his own gun was met with a snarl and a jet of ice shot in his direction. He was knocked over, sprawling against the wall of the building they'd been fighting next to.
Luckily, the three of them didn't have to defend themselves for long.
Out of the sky came an almighty clap of thunder, the lightning striking the ground just shy of the three of them. Thor landed immediately next to the lightning, his expression completely furious.
Without pause, Loki directed his attention to Thor, trying to freeze him completely over. Thor simply swung his hammer in a tight circle in front of him as the ice formed, breaking it into shards and sending it flying all over the street. The Winchesters ducked back, their clothing beginning to soak through with freezing water and ice.
Loki changed tactics, attempting to move the club quickly enough to pass Mjolnir. This resulted in his club smashing into pieces and flying off down the street, hitting lamp poles, frost giants, and narrowly missing Sam.
Thor reached forwards and grabbed Loki's arms, twisting them behind his back. He struggled, most definitely, but Thor was far too strong for him to fight. He cursed inwardly that he'd let the angel take his sceptre from him.
'Excellent job, brother,' said Loki, 'and what are you planning on telling the Allfather about this adventure?'
'You didn't have to do this, Loki,' said Thor, his voice strained, 'You could have come home.'
'Never,' said Loki.
Phil stirred enough to see Thor's grip on Loki, and mumbled something about handcuffs. Dean went to get them, handing them to Thor to click around Loki's wrists. The others began to approach; they'd all headed directly towards the street Sam had given them on hearing that Loki had arrived. The Tardis flew towards them and floated near Loki. Clint kept an arrow trained on the villain, just in case. Tony landed by Phil, making sure he was alright before clicking his helmet open and moving towards Loki. The Hulk came towards them, though as he walked he gradually morphed back into mild-mannered Doctor Banner. Tony and John gave him an approving nod at his self-control.
'You haven't stopped this,' said Loki to the assembling crowd of heroes, as those on foot began to approach from opposite ends of the streets 'The Jotuns have come through the cracks between the worlds to inhabit every country, every city that you've so much as dared to think about defending.'
'Actually,' said the Doctor, leaning out of the Tardis, 'I believe I've got the answer to that one.'
He held Loki's sceptre up in explanation, and the end glowed bright blue.
The change took place over a few minutes in a ripple effect. The frost giants nearest to the heroes glowed bright blue, before their forms elongated vertically and appeared to fire into the sky, vanishing within the clouds. The circle of vanishing frost giants grew wider and the progression of the rippling grew faster.
'Anyone for Shawarma?' asked Tony, grinning at the assembled heroes, 'I'm starving.'
His suggestion was met with a general nod of agreement, and they set off after Tony for this supposed food joint, Phil being somewhat supported between Nick and Sam.
Thor looked reluctant to eat while Loki was captured, but the Doctor apologetically pointed out that they couldn't get home without the sceptre, and they certainly weren't taking the sceptre until it had finished sending all the frost giants back to their own realm. Loki had scowled, and Thor knew well enough that he would simply be keeping an eye on Loki while the others ate.
'Excellent work, team,' came Mycroft's voice over their earpieces as they walked and chatted tiredly, 'My sources have informed me that the Jotuns are gradually vanishing. You may count this one an overall success.'
For once, Mycroft had refrained from mentioning the huge cost of life and infrastructure as he listened to the Avengers celebrate their triumph over their radio connection. They'd have their Shawarma, they'd ensure the clean-up was well underway, and then no doubt they'd scatter back to their original homes, with a few more contacts in their mobile phones.
He looked at the screens in the office he'd temporarily put together in the Helicarrier. He'd been sent messages from his contacts all around the globe; Mycroft should have known better than to tell them all that the situation was under control. They were now blaming him, asking for retribution and demanding access to the international criminals who brought this terrible worldwide event about.
Mycroft sent out one single message in reply; "Don't worry about retribution. The situation is now, most certainly, under control."
What seemed to be well into the Avengers' meal, Mycroft's phone rang, Nick's number lighting up the screen. Mycroft answered quickly.
'Holmes, I know your international buddies are going to want to…'
'Let Thor take Loki back to Asgard if he wishes, Director,' Mycroft interrupted, 'Provided the earth is relatively safe once more, the punishment delivered to those responsible can be dealt by those who know them best, do you not agree?'
Nick chuckled in surprise. 'Thanks, Mycroft. You want to see this lot before they take off, you get your ass over here, they're not waiting around.'
'That won't be necessary, Nick,' said Mycroft, 'They've done their job; if they're needed again, I'm sure I'll inevitably speak to them.'
'Sure,' said Nick, and the phone line cut off.
Mycroft smiled. All things considered, this mission had actually gone rather well.
Chapter 20: Conclusion
Thor had taken Loki back to Asgard, of course. The sceptre had made things far easier; the Doctor had suggested that with time and some additions, it may be able to be used in place of the broken Bifrost. Thor had several ideas about what his father might do in order to punish Loki for his crimes. However, he didn't quite expect to be here, watching a re-enactment of the scene he had once been on the other side of.
Loki was standing in the Bifrost, staring at Odin helplessly. Thor stood to Odin's side, a little way behind him. Odin was talking, using the same words Thor once had directed at him.
'Loki, Odin's son, you have betrayed your realm and the realms of other, innocent people. You have taken innocent lives and started a war for your own personal gain. You are unworthy of your own upbringing.'
Loki was beyond words at this point. Thor was surprised. He usually had something, anything to say to spare himself from punishment.
'I take from you your power, in the name of my father, and his father before,' said Odin, pointing his own sceptre at Loki. Loki's eyes were watering, but no matter how much he pleaded, he knew he couldn't escape.
'And I hereby cast you out.'
The sceptre was directed at Loki and he was thrown backwards into the rift between Asgard and Midgard. Loki's sceptre fell to the ground as he vanished from their sight.
'Father,' began Thor, the connection to Midgard still humming with energy.
'Thor, you know your brother well,' said Odin sadly, 'Even if given the chance, he wouldn't redeem himself. He wouldn't want to. He would wallow on the Earth for the rest of his life rather than return to a life in Asgard in which he isn't king.'
'Father, if you truly raised us as equals,' said Thor, 'Give him the same chance as you yourself gave me.'
'Thor, if we hand him the sceptre we may never be able to move between the realms as we once could.'
'The Doctor will help us,' said Thor firmly, 'Everyone deserves a second chance.'
Odin picked up Loki's sceptre with a sigh, and where the blue sphere had once been bright, he whispered 'Let whomsoever hold this sceptre, if he be worthy, possess the power of Loki.'
He tossed the sceptre through the quickly-closing rift. Thor let out a breath that he didn't know he'd even been holding.
Odin sighed again. 'You will make a great king.'
'Mycroft told me about your little request, Steve,' said the Doctor as soon as Clint and Natasha had walked out of the Tardis doors, 'He said you wanted to go back to 1943, back to where you used to be.'
'If it's all the same to you, I'd just like to stay there for one evening, Doctor.'
Steve smiled. 'Eight o' clock, the Stork Club, Saturday.'
The Doctor looked directly at Steve with a touch of concern. 'Are you absolutely sure about this?'
Steve nodded, completely certain.
'Right then,' said the Doctor, 'Allons-y!' and the Tardis lurched forwards into space. Not even the Doctor really understood how the Tardis somehow managed to find the right Saturday in all the Saturdays that year had, but somehow it did.
They landed at 8.15 right outside the club. Well, the time machine couldn't be perfect now, could it?
Peggy was sitting at the bar, a shot untouched by her elbow on the counter. The bartender looked at her sympathetically, cleaning glasses as she waited for the man everyone knew wouldn't come.
Another person entered the club, but Peggy hardly noticed. She was too busy trying not to think about who wasn't there.
'Sorry I'm late,' said Steve from the other side of the room. The entire club turned to look between Peggy and the new arrival as she turned to look in astonishment at Steve. He was smiling, his head bent slightly down but his eyes trained firmly on Peggy.
'Tardis always does land just that little bit late,' said the Doctor, who was standing behind Steve, leaning against the door frame.
'I thought you were dead,' said Peggy, somewhat breathless.
'I was frozen,' said Steve, 'For nearly seventy years. Had a hell of a time when I woke up.'
'Then how can you be here?'
'That'd be him,' said Steve, indicating the Doctor who raised his hand, 'Time machine. Long story.'
Peggy looked astounded again before starting to laugh.
'You came back from the 21st Century just for a dance?'
'I came back for the right partner.'
One of the guys in the back corner of the club mimed vomiting into his beer glass, but the pair didn't pay him the slightest bit of attention.
With another laugh, Peggy raced to Steve's arms, and before long they were dancing comfortably, song after song. The Doctor sat at the bar, grinning, chatting with the local club members (who were confused as hell that there were two of these British folk in the club for some reason).
'Bar's closing,' called the bartender, rolling his eyes at the dancing couple.
Steve sighed as the music stopped.
'I have to go back.'
'The Avengers. It makes me sound like I'm being cruel, but it's complicated, Peggy; they need me back there. We fought another war in 2012, but the bad guys weren't completely beaten, just driven away. If it happens again, they need me there.'
'Take me with you.'
Steve's eyebrows shot up; he completely hadn't even considered the possibility. He turned to stare at the Doctor hopefully.
'Well,' he said, 'I really can't interfere with personal timelines and all that, and…'
He looked at the expression on their faces and rolled his eyes dramatically.
'Oh, alright,' said the Doctor, 'She can come.'
Steve and Peggy broke into identical grins, before following the Doctor out the door of the club and into the future.
Thor wasn't used to being a multidimensional waveform of pure celestial intent that could take on a somewhat physical, albeit celestial, form in order to assert his presence.
Then again, that wasn't to say he wasn't enjoying the experience. He'd been right when he'd said the Doctor would help him; he'd requested a journey back to Earth to fulfil his promise to the angel.
Thor had gathered Sif and "her" warriors, and asked them to help take over heaven. Needless to say, they'd been as confused as it was possible for an Asgardian to be; saving the celestial plane of a different realm wasn't usually done.
When Thor explained that not only had he spoken to one of the angels involved, but the angel was trying to stop a host of other angels from restarting the apocalypse, they were all too keen to prevent the destruction of this foreign realm they'd heard so much about.
The battle for heaven between Raphael and Castiel appeared to an observer as one might expect it would; a host of angels, wings spread and tearing through the sky, feathers falling, angels dying.
The Asgardian presence helped Castiel's followers greatly; they were unexpected, unaccounted for, and Raphael's army had absolutely no idea how to handle them. It was surprising that they could tell the difference between the rebel angels and those fighting for the apocalypse. Later, even they couldn't explain the difference; they just knew.
Something else in this battle was entirely unexpected; how quickly it was over. The end began when Thor raised his hammer and called what he didn't realise was celestial lightning from the skies of heaven to rain down on Raphael. As it turns out, you don't always need an angel blade to kill an angel. The sky lit up and temporarily blinded every angelic warrior as Raphael's celestial form was torn to shreds.
Thor disliked killing. What he disliked more were the people who made it necessary.
Raphael's forces, bound by rigid structure and discipline, crumbled into disorder and chaos without their leader, and Castiel's army (for want of a far, far better word) took control. The surviving angels submitted to Castiel, only to realise that he wasn't looking for their submission. He was looking for them to realise their own path and make their own decisions. Until then, Castiel would grudgingly attempt to issue instructions that were vague enough to allow the angels to interpret them in a way they saw fit.
Castiel refused to answer to the label of god, but the whispers through the clouds said just that; Castiel had won. Castiel may as well be god. Castiel has set the angels free.
Tony was lounging around the top floor of the Stark building. Bruce was sitting on the couch opposite him, looking far less at ease than Tony, though a lot happier in the presence of a friend after his long self-enforced exile from his own country. Steve and Peggy sat at another couch, chatting to their friends about whatever came to mind.
Pepper walked in with Coulson, and the six of them sat around the coffee table, laughing and joking. The injections Sherlock had formulated for Bruce, somehow during the whole escapade, had meant Bruce hadn't seen his "other guy" since the fighting, despite several people trying what seemed to be their hardest to work him up into a rage. He smiled at the knowledge, and made a mental note to call John and get him to thank Sherlock for him. He hadn't honestly had time.
Steve felt far more comfortable with someone else equally out of their time as himself. Somehow, it made him adapt all the more by setting an example for Peggy. Peggy was doing quite well herself though, especially once Pepper had got onto teaching her about the modern age.
Coulson couldn't have been happier. He was having coffee with his own personal hero, as well as some of the best people he'd ever had the good fortune to work with. Even if Tony was a bit of a bastard sometimes. After several of these coffee based meet-ups, he'd even managed to stop staring at Steve as though he were the most amazing thing in the room.
He'd also managed to convince Nick Fury to give him a few more London-based missions, so he could meet up with John and complain about Tony's ridiculous ego.
They laughed and joked over their coffee (and later wine) for hours. On this particular day though, as Steve and Peggy walked out of the Stark Industries building to return to their home, they were met by the Doctor, leaning on the Tardis door, hiding inconspicuously in an alleyway.
'Doctor,' said Steve, smiling and shaking his hand.
'Steve,' said the Doctor, 'Peggy.'
'What are you doing here?' asked Peggy.
'Well, I was in the neighbourhood, and I thought I'd visit.'
Steve raised an eyebrow. 'You don't usually do this, do you?'
'Not really,' admitted the Doctor, 'so… fancy a trip?'
'One trip; anywhere you like, any time you like,' said the Doctor, 'All of time and space.'
Steve and Peggy stared at each other.
'Why us?' asked Steve.
'Well, you're already out of your time,' said the Doctor, 'and you seem to be good at it. Anyway. Coming?'
He snapped his fingers and the Tardis door opened.
Peggy smiled, and Steve nodded.
'Just the one trip,' said Steve, before walking into the Tardis.
The Doctor grinned and followed. The door closed, and the Tardis took off.
The Doctor had left Jack at Torchwood with a wave and told him in no uncertain terms not to get into any more trouble.
'You know me, Doctor,' said Jack with a grin, 'I never cause any trouble.'
The Doctor laughed, shook his head and stepped back into the Tardis. As it took off, Jack smiled, before walking back to his team at Torchwood to explain his continued leave of unexplained absence. Not that it would be the first time.
Every so often, when he needed a break, or just a quiet drink with someone he wouldn't feel the need to hit on, he'd catch the train to London, call John, and meet him, Lestrade and occasionally Sherlock (when he deigned to join them) for a beer.
Moriarty wasn't pleased at being back in the queue to eternity. He'd had fun, of course, but he could only replay his few moments of triumph to himself so many times before they became stale and boring.
He guessed he'd been in the line less than a week before he was approached by the King of Hell.
'What are you doing here?' asked Moriarty, 'Isn't there some sort of eternal punishment for your crimes to endure?'
'I've been banished from Earth for the duration of Loki's banishment, according to our new god,' said Crowley, spitting at the thought of Castiel's punishment.
'Sounds like you got off easy.'
'Knowing Loki, I'll be down here forever. Look,' said Crowley, 'I'm really not supposed to do this, but… want out?'
'Obviously,' said Moriarty, indicating the line as an extremely valid self-explanatory reason.
'The queue's getting a bit old,' said Crowley, 'Back to torture, I'm thinking. Thing is, the trouble with it last time was that some people enjoyed it.'
'It certainly would be less dull than this queue.'
'Well, that's where you come in. You could help with the tricky ones. You could probably tell someone's worst nightmares by the length of their pants.'
'Whatever, Brit. There's just one little catch.'
Moriarty rolled his eyes and groaned. 'Which is?'
'If I'm springing you out of hell, you'll have to play host to a demon or two on occasion. And you're doing the paperwork.'
Moriarty weighed up his options. Eternal damnation in an endless queue, or endless paperwork with the occasional spout of torture and demon-hosting?
He shook Crowley's hand and stepped out of the line, grinning. 'I'd be honoured.'
'Just so you know; the paperwork's backed up about two years.' added Crowley.
'You really are rather cruel, aren't you?' He meant it as a compliment.
Clint and Natasha were sitting on a quiet street in Washington in plain clothes, watching the clean-up from the frost giant invasion. There wasn't much left to be done; the rest was tidying rather than real clearing away. And heaven knew not a city on Earth, except perhaps Singapore, was ever going to be perfectly tidy.
'You two just don't know what to do with yourselves, do you?' asked Nick.
The pair of them turned to look at Nick, striding up to the park bench from behind them.
'The war's over, Director,' said Natasha, 'It's a bit… disconcerting.'
Nick sighed. 'Well, if you're that bored; there's a new mission for you.'
'And what's that exactly?' asked Clint.
'It's similar to Torchwood,' said Nick, 'But it's less United Kingdom-focused. There's a branch of it near New York, Captain Jack gave me someone called Martha Jones' contact details.'
'So, what, it's an organisation that does what?'
'Something very similar to SHIELD,' said Nick, 'But I'm thinking SHIELD, Torchwood, and UNIT might want to start working together if aliens keep getting involved in our world.'
Nick passed over the files to Clint, who took them eagerly and scanned through them.
'Think about it,' said Nick, 'Call me when you decide.'
He didn't even bother adding that of course they'd been assigned together for this mission.
It took all of Thor's willpower to finally admit he was ready for the throne.
The hall was decorated to perfection, everyone lined up well in advance to see Odin's son finally take the throne for his own. Odin could easily have remained king, but he was tired, old; he wanted a break. More than anything though, he wanted to show Thor exactly how much he had learnt, how much he had grown; it was time he took the place he'd been brought up to fill.
Thor entered the room slowly, his entrance far less dramatic than it was the last time he would have been handed the kingdom. He smiled at his soon-to-be subjects, hammer hanging by his side, not thrown in the air with triumph. He finally understood that this ceremony was an honour and a privilege; not a victory.
He walked up the hallway, smiling and acknowledging as many Asgardians as he was able to in the short time he had. Finally, he approached Odin, and knelt on the floor before him reverently.
Odin smiled, and began reciting the oaths. Thor swore to all of them as he had done before, though this time he understood what they meant.
'Thor, Odin's son, I now proclaim you king of Asgard.'
Thor turned to face the hall as Odin placed the crown onto his head. A wild cheer went up from the crowd as he smiled and finally raised his hammer, waving to the crowd.
His eyes drifted to the far distant end of the hall, where a blue police box stood inconspicuously behind the Asgardians. Apparently, no one else had noticed its presence. In front of it stood two people; the Doctor, who was nodding to the new king of Asgard, not changing out of his trench coat and converse outfit for the ceremony.
The other person standing there, beaming with pride, was Jane Foster.
Dean and Sam sat on the couch of 221B Baker Street, Castiel in the chair John usually used for writing his blog, and Sherlock in his own chair. John brought in tea and a single cup of coffee for Dean, a more recent addition to Sherlock and John's kitchen. Sam and Castiel had found they'd both rather enjoyed drinking tea. John still felt rather chuffed that he had managed to introduce the leading angel of heaven to the delight that was tea.
Quite suddenly, Castiel stood up. 'Loki has returned.'
Dean, Sam and Sherlock stood up immediately. 'What?' asked Sam, 'Where?'
'What the hell kind of Asgardian justice is letting him out?' asked Dean.
'I hate it when he does that,' said Dean, sitting back down.
'He'll come back,' said John, 'He always seems to.'
Loki landed forcefully in a desert. He had no idea where he was. His helmet had fallen off and been crushed into the ground near him, judging by the pieces of metal lying scattered across the sand.
About ten seconds after he landed, his sceptre fell out of the sky and hit him squarely in the chest. He winced in agony. It clattered to the floor beside him.
Loki rolled over and took hold of the sceptre. Though it was positively brimming with power, he was somehow unable to access it. In an instant, the exact extent of his punishment hit him.
He'd been banished to Earth until he was worthy to return to Asgard. He counted himself lucky only in the regard that he, at least, was able to carry his sceptre around with him.
He stood up and brushed the sand off his cape as best he could. He needed to find some proper clothing that wasn't going to draw as much attention to him as if he were wearing an elephant costume.
Loki was wondering where the hell he was meant to be going next when, five feet away from him, the pesky angel that helped the Avengers out appeared directly in front of him.
'Leave,' said Castiel, 'Now.'
'You know, I wish I could,' said Loki, staring at Castiel with a sarcastic expression, 'But I can't. I've been banished. I can hardly walk, let alone transport myself back to Asgard or Jotunheim.
It was true. As Loki shifted his weight from foot to foot, it became clear that his entire body was pretty badly bruised. Castiel tilted his head to the side, gazing at Loki intently.
'You speak the truth.'
'Of course I'm speaking the truth, angel, else I'd have run you through with my scythe by now.'
'That wouldn't work.'
'I am an angel,' said Castiel, 'The angel currently overseeing the running of heaven. I cannot be harmed with Earthly weapons, nor weapons of Asgard. I am unsure as to whether even an angel's blade would harm me now.'
Loki cursed quietly.
'I cannot return to Asgard without my power,' said Loki, almost mournfully, 'My life has turned to ruin.'
'You have the solution right in front of you,' said Castiel.
'What?' scoffed Loki, 'Do what Thor had to? "Become worthy of being Loki?" I'm what Odin made me.'
'Your father isn't here,' said Castiel, 'There are many who would offer to help.'
'Am I not counted?'
Loki looked at Castiel in confusion.
'You're going to help the man you've been trying to defeat for weeks to become worthy of power?' asked Loki, 'You run this world as though you are its god. You don't have time for me.'
'Obviously I would have to delegate.'
'What, and have me spend time with the demon-fighting brothers? The consulting detective? Or the walking ego that is Tony Stark?'
'It would certainly teach you humility,' said Castiel.
Loki sighed. He was standing in a desert in the middle of god knows where. He couldn't teleport, he couldn't return to Asgard, he couldn't survive without the charity this angel was offering.
Loki's face contorted in complete mental agony. 'Fine,' he spat out.
Without knowing it, he had already taken his first, tiny step to his return.
When Castiel reappeared in 221B with Loki in tow, even Sherlock was surprised.
Within seconds, three guns were pointed at Loki.
'Cas, what the hell!' yelled Dean.
'Calm down, all of you,' said Castiel, pushing Loki's shoulder down until he sat on the couch, 'Thor has informed me of his punishment.'
'Which is what, exactly,' asked John, 'Freedom to run riot over Earth again?'
'What Thor was originally subjected to,' said Castiel, 'He is powerless until he learns humility and sympathy.'
Sam chuckled sarcastically.
'Oh, yeah, sure,' he said, 'and what, we're meant to be babysitting him?'
'I don't exactly have time to be looking after a renegade, powerless pagan god,' said Sherlock.
'None of us do,' said Sam.
Castiel stared each of them down in turn.
'You have the opportunity to save this man from eternal despair,' said Castiel, 'All of you.'
'Cas, you can't just leave us with this guy,' whined Dean.
'I'm sorry, everyone, I really am,' replied Cas, 'but I have a lot of work to do in heaven. If he misbehaves, call on me; I will answer any one of you. And before I go.'
'Make sure everyone has their turn looking after him.'
Castiel vanished, leaving a very angry Loki on the couch and a baffled set of Avengers in the living room at 221B.
'Well then, who wants more tea?' asked John.
'What do you mean, Loki's back?' asked Tony over the video conference. Bruce, Pepper and Coulson were sitting around the couch in the background of Tony's shot. In other frames, Jack stood at the desk of Torchwood Three, and Clint and Natasha were at a desk in UNIT, apparently taking a break in their continuing training on the alien threats that had been covered up for years.
'I mean he's here, powerless, and needs a babysitter,' said John, 'Tony, we're all going to have to share… hang on, where's Steve? Doesn't he come to those coffee things of yours?'
'Steve apparently took off with the alien and the blue box,' said Tony.
'What, and he didn't invite me?' asked Jack.
'Jack, you know why he doesn't invite you,' said Natasha.
'Still, Tash, it hurts,' Jack said, pretending to be deeply offended, 'So what do we do with Mr Mischief over there?'
Dean, Sam, Sherlock and John turned to look at Loki. He in turn looked up at them, only to see that every eye both on the screen and in the room was trained on him.
Loki sighed. 'Apparently I need your help to return to Asgard, or indeed any other realm. Why aren't Moriarty and Crowley getting this sort of punishment?'
'Well, Cas banished Crowley from Earth for however long your punishment lasts,' said Dean, 'and Moriarty's stuck down in hell doing paperwork.'
Loki raised his eyebrow. He clearly disagreed with the equality of their punishments.
'Do we get a choice in this?' asked Bruce.
'Apparently not,' said Sherlock.
There was an extremely tense pause.
'We'll have to take it in turns.' said Pepper.
'When did I ok this?' asked Tony, turning to Pepper.
'Na-uh,' said Jack, 'he's dangerous.'
'We can't exactly invite him into Stark Industries, Scotland Yard, UNIT, Torchwood, the British Government and SHIELD all at once,' said Clint, 'It's the worst possible solution.'
'It's not like he can do anything though,' said Natasha, surprising all of them, 'He's essentially helpless. Between Mycroft and Nick, he'll never be out of sight, even if he does try and escape.'
'Well, guys,' began John, 'are we going to do this? Pass him around the world, like an unwanted child?'
'Harsh, dude,' said Dean.
'I'll draw up a basic timetable,' said Bruce, 'Of course, all his international travel would have to be pretty carefully monitored.'
'Bruce, you sure about this?' asked John.
'I don't see how else to solve this,' said Bruce, 'Putting him in jail would be a waste of time; besides, he'd never get out of this that way.'
'I can't believe we're doing this,' said Bruce.
'I'll get the Doctor onto this,' said Jack, 'there's no way he's not taking a turn with this one.'
'Who's starting?' asked John.
'You are,' said Bruce, smiling. Tony sighed in relief noticeably. 'As he's already there.'
'You'll be first, Sherlock, and then pass him to Tony.'
'Guys, there's no point in complaining,' said Natasha, 'we've all got to take our turn here.'
'Can I have a say in this?' asked Loki, and he was subjected to another group stare.
'Oh, do what you want,' he amended, spitting the words out in anger.
Dean and Sam weren't in London for very long, especially after Loki's arrival. The Doctor was apparently no longer in this time zone, which unfortunately meant they had to fly back to Washington to retrieve the Impala from its long-forgotten car park near the motel they'd stayed in.
However, thirty eight minutes into the flight, Dean was struck with a sudden memory of being stabbed in the thigh by the hottest chick he'd seen in months, and so burst out laughing. While his fear didn't evaporate completely, it certainly abated. Sam had raised his eyebrow and given him a funny look, but he hadn't said anything about it.
When they finally arrived at the Impala, there was a tyre clamp lying beside the back left wheel. It had been removed and carefully smashed into pieces. Beside it was a note.
'They won't notice if you've left within two hours – Castiel.'
Dean smiled and thanked god. Both Sam and Cas knew who he meant.
Upon opening the Impala and sliding into the passenger's seat, Sam reached into the glove box for a pair of sunglasses. Instead, he found a sealed envelope labelled "Winchester" with SHIELD's stamp on it.
'What the hell?' asked Dean, staring at it.
Sam shrugged and ripped it open. Out of it fell three cards and a piece of paper. Dean picked one up and looked at it carefully.
'"Thought these could help,' Sam read out from the note, 'But be warned; we'll be watching your spending habits for as long as you two stick with being hunters. Director Fury."'
'Dude,' said Dean, a huge grin on his face, 'This is an ID card. A REAL federal SHIELD agent ID card.'
'And, apparently, a credit card,' said Sam, holding up one of the other two cards so Dean could see it.
Dean looked at it and chuckled.
'Sam, remember when I told you I didn't think this job paid well?'
'Well, forget that,' said Dean. He smiled, slipping his ID card into his pocket, along with the credit card he quickly snatched out of Sam's hand. He turned the engine on, revved it, and drove the Impala out of the driveway.
Both of them figured; they really needed to pay Bobby a visit after all that.
Lestrade had walked into the door and instantly raised his gun to point it at Loki, who was sitting at the couch of 221B, scowling into his cup of tea.
'No, don't!' said John, standing up and moving towards Lestrade, hands outstretched.
Sherlock's expression clearly showed that he wouldn't mind if Lestrade shot the guy.
'John, what the HELL is he doing here?' asked Lestrade, not yet lowering his gun.
'I can explain.'
'I'd love to hear it.'
'It involves Thor, a time-travelling alien, and god.'
Lestrade blanched. 'Is he going to cause any trouble?' he asked, indicating a point between Sherlock and Loki. John got the general gist of his meaning.
'Not if I have anything to say about it.'
'What's the case then, Lestrade?' asked Sherlock, 'Something important, obviously. International, I'm guessing.'
Lestrade moved his hand to his forehead in exasperation. John looked at Lestrade in shock; he'd taken a guess at the case the moment those words left Sherlock's mouth.
'Sherlock, if you watched the news, you'd know this already. The pope's been murdered. You've been personally asked for; again. It was poison, but we don't have a motive at all. The man they've got in for questioning's about as devout as they get, and he's claiming innocence.'
Sherlock grinned over his tea. John sighed. Loki looked apprehensive.
'I'll take the case.'
And, finally, whenever the international politics were just right and the winds were blowing in the right direction, Nicolas Fury would step out of his office to find a woman staring intently at her Blackberry, standing beside a black car. And every time he saw it, no matter what city he was in, he would grin, shake his head, step inside, and for once look forward to coffee at Starbucks.